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Community health centers compare well with private practices, Stanford researcher finds
Date:7/9/2012

STANFORD, Calif. Government-funded community health centers, which serve low-income and uninsured patients, provide better care than do private practices, a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine has found.

Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, and colleagues at University of California, San Francisco looked at the actions physicians took when patients visited private practices versus the actions that were taken at community health centers, also referred to as Federally Qualified Health Centers and FQHC Look-Alikes, both of which receive government support.

Their study is to be published online July 10 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Stafford is the senior author.

The results of the study are particularly encouraging given that the Affordable Care Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld June 28, depends on community health centers to provide services to previously uninsured patients.

"If community health centers are going to be taking up some of the new demand, we can be confident that they're giving relatively good care," Stafford said.

Stafford and his colleagues analyzed records of 73,074 visits to private practices, FQHCs and FQHC Look-Alikes. Both FQHCs and Look-Alikes receive enhanced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement; FQHCs also receive government grants. The researchers acquired the records from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which the National Center for Health Statistics gathered between 2006 and 2008.

They evaluated the physicians' adherence to professional and federal guidelines for 18 measures, which included treatments for specific diseases, screening for certain conditions, and diet and lifestyle counseling. "We looked at fairly common conditions that are seen in primary care," said lead author L. Elizabeth Goldman, MD, of the UC San Francisco.

The researchers found that
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Contact: Susan Ipaktchian
susani@stanford.edu
650-725-5375
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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