“Caring 4 Palm Beach County” increases donated care

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Because of funding cuts to hospitals and clinics, a new campaign Caring 4 Palm Beach County (#Caring4PBC) is being launched to increase donated medical care for the poor and uninsured people of Palm Beach County. Caring 4 Palm Beach County is calling on more physicians to provide specialty donated care and on more ancillary facilities (medial labs, imaging centers, etc.) to offer donated services for many of the people in Palm Beach County with no medical insurance, despite the creation of the federal Affordable Care Act. There are at least 260,000 people with no medical insurance in the county, based on data from County Health Rankings & Roadmap from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Participating organizations in Caring 4 Palm Beach County include Palm Beach County Medical Society which runs Project Access, a coordinated system of volunteer physician care, hospital care, diagnostic services, and medication assistance for low-income uninsured residents. The campaign was started to find local solutions to treating the uninsured because: 1) There is going to be no Medicaid expansion in Florida in the near future. 2) There have been no significant appropriations to charitable clinics locally and statewide. 3) There’s going to be a big reduction in hospital payment programs for caring for poor patients (programs known as LIP, low-income pool). “We are doing this because we have to take care of the uninsured in our community,” said Dr. Stephen Babic, a Boca Raton cardiologist and president of the Palm Beach County Medical Society. “This issue impacts all of us. We all have to work together to address it.” If the funding problems aren’t addressed, there will have significant implications for all residents and all taxpayers of Palm Beach County. They could potentially mean paying more in medical bills, being required to pay more in local taxes to cover indigent care, and waiting in long lines at emergency rooms. This is the result of many uninsured going to hospitals for basic primary medical conditions or for emergency medical conditions that have gone untreated for a long time. Due to the influx, hospitals can’t absorb all those costs because of cuts in public funding — and so, they’ll pass on those costs to people with insurance and to taxpayers. Those interested in providing donated care need to call Lauren Stoops, Project Access Program Director, at 561-433-3940 (ext. 26)