RENO, NV - With help from federal dollars, the number of Nevadans on Medicaid has expanded substantially. Right now 40,000 Nevadans are waiting to see if they qualify for Medicaid. That would not have been possible a year ago, when the only Medicaid patients in Nevada were blind, disabled, or had children. New Medicaid Members will have a big impact on local medical care delivery.
At the Community Health Alliance--formerly the HAWC Clinic--Saturdays have been set aside for walk-in and scheduled appointments to locals interested in applying for Medicaid.
They say 80-percent of the people who inquire here enroll for the state health insurance program.
One of those is Chad Buchanan. He's waiting for confirmation now; he's been out of work and insurance for a year and was worried sick, he'd get sick.
And until this October there would be no way he'd qualify for Nevada Medicaid.
”Am I going to get into an accident? Am I going to somehow, some way, you know cause economic hardship on my family?” asks Buchanan.
Notice Buchanan talks about not his health or well being, but rather the potential cost of having a medical problem.
And that's a typical scenario.
In the past, patients who could not afford or qualify for insurance would wait until their medical problem became severe before seeking attention.
That would typically mean a visit to the emergency room, the most expensive kind of medical care, with no way to pay for it.
With expanded Medicaid membership in Nevada, these patients can find help sooner and the treatment will be less expensive.
At Community Health Alliance, clinicians don't expect their patient loads to change with Medicaid coverage; rather, more patients will be paying patients.
”We hope to be able to expand our services further and a lot of that depends on how many more people come to our facility with Medicaid cards,” says Charles Durate, Community Health Alliance C.O.O.
Durate does concede, however, with Medicaid reimbursement less than ideal, local private practices may refuse to take on any more Medicaid patients. Community Health Alliance would be an alternative for those patients, as well.