Tuesday March 16, 2004
Mayor Jerry Abramson announced a new health initiative today for uninsured adults ages 19-64 in Louisville Metro whose incomes are at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. The initiative is called getCare, a non-profit organization whose managing board consists of health care and human service providers, business leaders, and government officials.
“The getCare partnership represents a thoughtful, coordinated effort to expand our community’s health care safety net to provide quality medical care for at least 5,000 people who in our community with no health insurance,” said Abramson. “At the same time, getCare will improve the larger health-care system in our community by reducing unnecessary and expensive emergency room and hospital visits.”
There are an estimated 46,000 uninsured adults in Louisville Metro. The getCare initiative was created to close the gaps in access to health care for adults, since children and seniors are already covered under existing programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.
The getCare initiative will give qualified low-income adults a membership card and will assign them to a “medical home,” a health care provider that may be one of the community’s existing safety net providers such as Family Health Centers, the University of Louisville Primary Care Center, or the Park duValle Community Health Center. Patients may also be assigned to private practice physicians who have volunteered to see uninsured patients for no fee.
The initiative will also coordinate care for diagnostics, such as x-rays, will assist patients in getting prescription drugs, and will link patients with dental as well as inpatient and out patient hospital services. The getCare initiative will also provide case management and patient education for those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. The initiative will also assist in appointment scheduling and will remind patients of their appointments. A provider network will also link uninsured patients to medical specialists.
Joining Abramson at the announcement that was made at the Louisville Metro Health Department were several patients who have already taken advantage of get Care services during a pilot phase of the initiative.
Linda Fitzgerald, a 56-year-old breast cancer survivor had no health insurance after being laid off from her job. She had to use a magnifying glass to read because she couldn’t afford an eye exam. The need for extensive dental work was hampering her job search, and her severe asthma forced her to seek treatment at the U of L Hospital emergency room.
getCare found Fitzgerald a medical home at the East Broadway Family Health Center and helped her get prescription drugs to treat her asthma. getCare also secured an eye exam at the Lions Eye Clinic and dental services at the U of L Dental School. “I am now able to hold my head up, look people in the eye, smile, and feel good about myself,” said Fitzgerald.
Jason Knopp is a 24-year-old college graduate was headed to Japan to teach English in the summer of 2003. During a routine medical exam in preparation for the trip, he learned he had a kidney problem. With no health insurance, Knopp went to the U of L Hospital emergency room. Through getCare, Knopp was referred to a kidney specialist and is now on his way to resuming a promising career.
The getCare initiative is funded by a $850,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, by $780,000 raised from local sources consisting of hospitals safety net providers Metro Government, and the University of Louisville, and by a $1,685,000 federal grant from Health Resources & Services Administration