Affordable Care Act poses new challenges to local nonprofits

— As provisions of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act begin to be implemented across the country, Moffat County nonprofit organizations and other agencies will have to work through their own set of challenges related to the sweeping health care reform, from funding to access to education.

On Monday, some of those area nonprofits got a push in the right direction during a presentation by Kim Redd and Maro Zagoras about health care reform and what it means for Moffat County. Hosted by Moffat County United Way and Moffat County government, the event helped attendees recognize potential issues groups may face and suggested ways to proactively prepare to meet them head on.

Zagoras said health care reform for local nonprofits means there will be many more people eligible fore Medicaid, possibly creating changes in services provided, funding received and in organizations’ purposes.

Moffat County United Way Executive Director Corrie Ponikvar said health care changes could affect the way United Way funds agencies such as the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition, the Visiting Nurse Association and Colorado West Regional Mental Health. Ponikvar said requests for funds might look very different.

Zagoras said although nonprofits already tend to cooperate when it comes to patient health care, the Affordable Care Act would push for more cooperation across different agencies and the sharing of electronic health records across providers. Electronic health records would still adhere to HIPPA patient confidentiality requirements.

Still, some attendees voiced concerns over patient confidentiality, but Zagoras said the goal of sharing health records is to cut back on duplicate tests and procedures and provide all the information for a complete diagnosis or referral.

Part of that cooperation includes medical homes, accountable care organizations (ACOs) and regional care collaborative organizations (RCCOs).

Zagoras said medical homes will keep medical, dental and emotional health information together and will have the ability to link patients to community-based resources when needed. ACOs coordinate a network of providers and focus on a shift from fee for services to paying for performance and outcome-based results supported by health data and analytics. The RCCO is a regional approach to health system accountability with seven regions in Colorado.

After the presentation, Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition Executive Director Janet Pearcey said she didn’t foresee health care changes affecting the way her group operates, but she wished there were more of a dental benefit for Medicaid patients who keep up with preventative services such as a cleaning every six months.

Others had concerns regarding patient accountability and what that might mean since pay is tied to performance and outcome-based results.

To help with patient accountability, education will have to come to the forefront, the presenters said. Many people will have insurance for the first time as a result of the Affordable Care Act, prompting nonprofits to consider educating them on what having insurance means and how to use it.

Ponikvar said it’s always better for everyone if people are on a health insurance plan, adding that she hopes the comprehensive plan will engage more people and rid the community of the stigma associated with being on Medicaid.

Between 20 and 25 percent of Moffat County’s population is uninsured. Moffat County Human Resources Director Lynnette Running said she is concerned whether there will be enough health care providers once everyone is insured and receiving the quality of care they deserve.

“The county is self-insured. So we’re trying to do what’s best with taxpayer dollars while still providing our employees with good health plans,” Running said.

A complicated process that continues to change, Zagoras wrapped up her presentation by encouraging attendees to prepare to embrace the challenges that lie ahead.

Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or dwarden@craigdailypress.com

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