A few months ago, we covered the benefits of Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and private practice partnerships. Now during the pandemic, partnerships between FQHCs and private practices are more important then ever and will be the key to beating COVID-19.
Primary care practices that may be part of a group or a practice or alone as a small business are also on the front lines of the pandemic with the community hospitals, community health centers and rural health centers (RHCs). Primary care practices and small businesses across the nation are, if they haven’t already, going to face a strain. As unemployment continues to increase and previously insured patients become Medicaid beneficiaries, FQHCs, RHCs and private practice providers have an interesting reason to come together.
According to an article published by Modern Healthcare, COVID-19 pushing primary care to brink of collapse, the recommended telehealth visits that work to prevent sick patients from spreading the infection provide 30 percent less revenue than face-to-face visits. This was also true for FQHCs until CMS lobbied and won for FQHCs to receive full reimbursement for telehealth visits for the duration of the pandemic. It is still unknown if that will transfer over to private practices. FQHCs and RHCs will need more providers to care for the increase of patients that have recently and will become Medicaid beneficiaries, which is where private practice providers come into play.
According to HealthLeaders’ article from April 8, A Quarter of Rural Hospitals at ‘High Risk’ of Closure, COVID-19 likely to make it worse, shares “one quarter of rural hospitals – more than 350 rural hospitals – are at risk of closing due to financial challenges.” One of the largest causes is that more than 75 percent of patients are going to receive care out of their area. How much money does this translate to? $8.3 billion total in patient revenue. The top five states most likely to experience this are Tennessee, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama and Kansas.
If these practices and hospitals close, it will hurt the nation’s front line defense against COVID-19, something none of us can afford. Are you ready to expand your provider base through contracts?