Why hospitals are creating health center 'look-alikes'

A Kaiser Health News analysis of federal data published Sept. 9 highlights an increasing trend among hospitals — establishing independent, nonprofit health center "look-alikes" for primary care patients to improve their financial picture.

Federally qualified health center look-alikes, as designated by the federal government, deliver primary care services to underserved communities. They receive federally qualified health center prospective payment system reimbursement through CMS — a higher rate than if the sites were owned by the hospitals — as well as help with the recruitment and retention of primary care providers via HHS' National Health Service Corps.

However, they don't receive health center program funding from HHS to cover operational expenses.

Some hospitals increasingly view look-alikes as a strategy to help with their financial picture, since they can divert primary care patients without urgent needs to look-alike clinics from expensive emergency rooms, according to Kaiser Health News.

The Kaiser Health News analysis published Sept. 9 found that at least eight hospitals and health systems have converted or built new clinics designated as look-alikes from 2019 through 2022. This includes Mount Carmel, Ill.-based Wabash General Hospital, Beverly Hospital in Montebello, Calif., and Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Fla., among others.

To read the full Kaiser Health News report, click here

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