Author Rufus Phillips

In 2021, a group of 60 people in Virginia for free and charitable hospitals donated $ 100 million to care for more than 63,000 patients. It is an impressive number of trials and tribulations over the past few years and clearly demonstrates what medical hospitals are doing to improve Virginia health through the availability of comprehensive, integrated and advanced medical care.

With a legacy of service since the last 50 years, free hospitals in Virginia continue to provide unparalleled care to the needy. If any reminder of the network’s commitment to helping the people of Virginia is needed, one should only look back on the past two years and how they responded to the COVID-19 health crisis.

Over the course of one night, medical teams developed technologies, purchased self-defense equipment and skipped solutions to continue to care for the uninsured in the state, numbers that have risen as a result of job losses. Hospitals evacuated patients from the emergency rooms and helped the people of Virginia cope with the pre-existing problems that could not have been ignored during the epidemic.

In short, free Virginia hospitals have never been late in the face of the biggest health crisis of our generation. But as the medical network grows, bolder, and more mature in the face of COVID-19 and its many forms, complex, health challenges remain.

For various reasons, many people missed the necessary time to protect themselves during the epidemic. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that 41 percent of patients skipped care at the beginning of the epidemic. These figures are even more alarming when you consider that low-income earners have already left care due to the financial crisis even before the epidemic.

While several bills a month compete with your interests, people with lower and lower incomes have the opportunity to put child care, housing and food first before receiving medical care. An international survey in 2019 found that more than half of lenders (54%) delayed treatment because they could not afford it, missed self-care tests and received treatment when they became ill. If economic hardship causes chronic illnesses such as hypertension or diabetes to be treated, the consequences can be devastating.

Rising inflation is becoming more and more common in many families, especially those who have to pay to pay for and suffer the cost of food, gas, and housing. Many of our patients are among the most affected people, who are in the ALICE category, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed. In Virginia, 10 percent of families live in federal poverty (FPL) at 200 percent, while 29 percent (about three times) are ALICE households earning from 200 percent to 400 percent FPL according to the 2020 Virginia ALICE Report. As we continue to raise inflation, free hospitals could be a very important tool for the hardworking people of Virginia who work in the ALICE organization.

Low-income families will also be affected when Virginia Medicaid returns to its enrollment plan. Since the declaration of public health at the onset of the epidemic, Medicaid members are able to maintain their health despite changing circumstances. After the medical crisis, Virginia and other countries will need to reconsider the eligibility of Medicaid members. During Medicaid leave, it is important that all Virginia citizens who are eligible for Medicaid be covered and that free hospitals work diligently with the government, Care Departments, and nonprofit partners to help those affected. For people who are not eligible for Medicaid and cannot afford treatment in their market, free hospitals will be a real way to get medical care.

Meanwhile, hospitals are facing an increase in the number of patients as they continue to deal with COVID and its long-term consequences and are facing declining medical volunteers and rising labor costs that are undermining their capacity. Volunteers are the lifeblood of hospital life and help to connect patients with the quality of care they deserve. But many volunteers have retired or left health care during the epidemic and are not returning to hospitals, which has led hospitals to pay for services.

Although hospitals are recruiting new professionals, like any other company but especially healthcare, it takes time to fill the vacancies. Increasing prices related to self-defense and sanitation equipment continue to burden the budget.

In the face of these challenges, the critical work of our hospitals continues, thank you very much for the dedication of our volunteers, the generosity of our friends and donors and the invaluable support they receive from the government, including the most important American Rescue Plan. Act FY23 funds in a two-year budget recently passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Glenn Younkin.

It is a prudent investment that protects the health of at-risk patients and strengthens Virginia’s commitment to good health.

Rufus Phillips is the CEO of the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. He can be reached at [email protected].

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