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December 06, 2012 9:17 am

EDITORIAL: Medical care for the underserved

Written by Don Amend

One of the major benefits of living in Powell and Park County is the quality of medical care available.

Still, as in virtually every other part of America, there are those for whom it is unavailable because they cannot afford it. 

Medicaid, the federal government program designed to assist those in need, is limited by the availability of doctors or, especially in Powell, dentists to accept Medicaid patients.

Powell’s Heart Mountain Volunteer Medical Clinic exists to help as well, but has limited resources and can open only one day each week and provides no dental services.

It is in that context that a new group, the Powell Health Care Coalition has been organized to explore another possibility, the establishment, with federal funding, of Community Health Center that would provide, not only for physical and dental health, but mental health as well. The idea has been under discussion informally for some time, and members of the organization believe it is time to decide the issue one way or another.

There are a number of issues that need to be resolved if a Community Health Center is ever to become a reality in Powell. To start with, the community may not even meet the requirement for federal funding. The coalition has to be able to show that the Powell area is underserved, and that may be difficult without including part of Big Horn County in the study.

Chief among the issues is the relationship among the proposed center, Powell Valley Healthcare and the volunteer clinic. The Heart Mountain Volunteer Medical Clinic serves those who can’t afford care, while the Community Health Center would accept any patients who would pay on a sliding scale, a practice that might draw patients from Powell Valley Healthcare.

Other concerns include the evolving issue of health care around the country with the federal Affordable Health Care Act now a certainty following last month’s election. Under that law, presumably, more people will have insurance and the need for a Community Health Center would diminish. Federal funding might be cut forcing the closing of the center after only a few years.

It is also possible that there will be strong opposition in the community to accept federal funds at all.

In short, there are many issues to address and many obstacles to overcome before a Community Health Center is established or not.

The idea is definitely worth studying and given careful deliberation by the board of the Powell Health Care Coalition as well as Powell Valley Healthcare and the Heart Mountain Volunteer Medical Clinic. It will be a difficult and time consuming task as they search for a way to provide care for those who have limited or no access to health care without adversely affecting the quality care already available in the Powell area.

We urge community members to give their full support to the medical community as they study this issue in the continuing effort to provide quality medical care for all of Powell’s residents.

5 comments

  • Comment Link December 07, 2012 8:48 am posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    Quality of Medical care in Park County? Must be why so many go to Billings for better healthcare.

  • Comment Link December 07, 2012 5:16 pm posted by clipstein

    second that disgusted......... billings clinic had to retest and straighten out the mess caused here........ that isnt so bad then they wanted to get paid for incompendentce. or being stupid.......of course they cannot even say thank you for another thing..... be the last time raise money for them.

  • Comment Link December 10, 2012 8:03 pm posted by Steve Moseley

    I hereby nominate Disgusted taxpayer and clipstein for the title of Saddest, Unhappiest, Most Tiresome and Relentlessly Depressing Whiners on Planet Earth.' Sheesh. Give it a break already.

  • Comment Link December 13, 2012 7:55 am posted by Salty Dawg

    I hereby congratulate Disgusted taxpayer and clipstein for exposing the facts,instead of hiding them like RINO's do so well.They do not whine and are not depressing,actually they are quite informative,unlike the most of the tripe reported in local papers.

  • Comment Link December 13, 2012 8:08 am posted by clipstein

    I hereby nominate Moseley and the rest for helping destroy what use to be a nice town......karma is ???? aint it........How can I be the saddest, unhappiest, most tiresome, relentless, depressing when you are the one living it. I am out of there and do not have to look at the people without a backbone to make the city officals accountable. I do not feel guilty when I tried my best to make powell a town that the people could be proud of instead of being broke........besides i have a right to an opinion. so do the others

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