Bill would help fund health centers

By Kelly Baker Staff Writer

State Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield, on Thursday introduced a bill that would fund construction of federally qualified health centers in or near two Ohio hospitals as part of a pilot program to help take the burden off emergency rooms.

The bill also would include $1 million per fiscal year to expand and develop community health centers and allow federally qualified health center look-alikes — health centers that are similar to but not designated as an FQHC — to be eligible for the Medical Malpractice Insurance Premium Assistance Program.

If passed, the state’s health department would oversee the projects and determine which two hospitals — one urban and one rural — would house the pilot FQHCs.

“House Bill 164 aims to address the large number of Ohioans who are using the emergency room as their primary care provider,” McGregor said. “This bill helps to increase access to affordable health care while reducing those costly emergency room visits.”

Locally, more than 30,000 people used Community Mercy Health Partners emergency rooms for primary care last year, hospital officials said.

The county has filed a letter of intent to create a federally qualified health center at the Community Hospital Health Care Center. The center would be operated through the Rocking Horse Community Health Center.
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