A little-recognized section of the health reform law includes a measure to establish coordinated medical homes, a type of system where a variety of health practitioners – from dentists to psychologists – are educated about an individual’s health status and work together to provide the type of care that person needs.
This model of health care has been integrated in various cities such as Seattle and Boston, but the law’s provision would expand it nationally.
Elizabeth Sommers, an APHA member, joined a panel of other community health experts at a congressional briefing last Friday to raise awareness of this relatively new, alternative approach to health. During the briefing, Sommers shared her on-the-ground perspective of how the model is applied at the community level and discussed some of its successes.
“The real component is providing health quality integrated care that is working with partnerships and multiple revenue streams,” said Sommers. “And I joke that sometimes those streams need to be rivers.”
Sommers is the research director at Pathways to Wellness, a Boston-based clinical network specializing in acupuncture and traditional Asian medicine. Pathways provides no-cost care to people with HIV/AIDS and to military veterans. Pathways also works with insurers and managed care networks that include acupuncture in their covered services. Services are also covered by patients’ self-pay that includes a sliding-scale system.
The panel was hosted by the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium.