Thousands of low-income St. Louis City and County residents will continue to receive health services through a network of community health centers.
Last night the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved a one year, $30 million funding extension for Gateway to Better Health, which will be used to cover the costs of providing health services to people between 19 to 64-years-old who are making up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
Robert Fruend is Chief Executive Officer of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission, which oversees the project. He says providing quality health care to uninsured people will help keep costs down because they won’t end up with larger problems down the road.
“It’s been a successful national model, where we’ve been able to provide about $30 million in funding that would otherwise go to expensive, in patient care and provide it to physicians out in low income areas so we’re able to keep people healthy in the first place,” Fruend says.
The project had previously provided primary and urgent care services for people who made up to 133 percent of the poverty level and specialty services for residents making up to 200 percent of the poverty level. Under the extension, only residents who make up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible.
That change will mean that about 4,000 of the 23,500 people who are currently enrolled in the program, which got under in July of last year, will no longer qualify. Fruend says officials will begin working to help participants who no longer qualify under the extension to find other coverage options.
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