Brownsville Community Health Center – getting Texans covered in South Texas

August 13, 2015

Brownsville Community Health Center

BROWNSVILLE – As part of National Health Center Week, Enroll America today recognized Brownsville Community Health Center (BCHC) for their work to help low income and medically-underserved communities get the care they need, educate the community about their health coverage options, and enroll the uninsured in quality coverage.

National Health Center Week aims to create awareness of health center programs and the invaluable work they do in communities across the country to ensure Americans at every income level can get access to affordable health care. Enroll America and BCHC have partnered to expand access to in-person enrollment assisters to help the uninsured find a plan that fits their needs and budget, and due in part to their work, more than 18,000 Cameron residents have enrolled in quality, affordable health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

“Brownsville Community Health Center’s work has made them a true cornerstone of their community and a trusted resource to uninsured Brownsville residents,” said Mimi Garcia, Texas State Director for Enroll America. “Thanks in part to their hard work, we’ve seen a dramatic decline in the uninsured rate in Cameron County. But we know there’s more work to be done, and we’ll continue our efforts across the city to ensure that affordable health coverage becomes a way of life in Brownsville.”

BCHC is a nonprofit health center that provides adult primary care, pediatrics, dental care, behavioral health services, women’s center, radiology and immunizations among other services. During the second enrollment period that ended last spring, BCHC partnered with Enroll America in several enrollment events where BCHC’s bilingual Certified Application Counselors provided application assistance to Cameron residents seeking health insurance.

“We’re proud to work alongside Enroll America to empower our community and help everyone access quality care and health coverage,” said Cristela Gomez, Patient Centered Medical Home Coordinator for Brownsville Community Health Center. “We know that we play a critical role in the lives of many low income Brownsville residents, and they should know that we are here to help them get the care they need. With the help of Enroll America, we’re going to continue providing high quality, low cost care to whoever in our community needs it.”

According to the National Association of Community Health Centers, over 22 million people nationwide use health centers as their medical and health care home, and that number is rapidly growing. 72% of people who use health centers live at or below the federal poverty level, tend to be members of minority groups, and more than 75% are either uninsured or have coverage through Medicaid.

Health centers are especially critical because they remove barriers that may cause a patient to be unaware of their treatment options, not seek treatment for an illness or injury, or make it impossible for them to seek treatment altogether. For instance, community health centers are open to all residents regardless of their insurance status, offer transportation and other services to make accessing care easier, and are located in identified high-need areas with higher poverty levels and infant mortality where fewer physicians practice.

“Health centers are often the only resource people have to get information about their health and the treatment they need,” said Mimi Garcia. “Without Brownsville Community Health Center’s leadership and tireless effort, many Brownsville residents may face financial ruin from an unexpected illness or injury – or not be able to get care at all.”

Moving into the fall, Enroll America and BCHC will continue to partner as they have been to help families enroll in health coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

If an uninsured Brownsville resident experiences a life-changing event, like having a baby, getting married, or moving, among other circumstances, this year before enrollment opens again in November, they may qualify for a special enrollment period. They can use the Get Covered Connector at www.getcoveredamerica.org/connector to find and schedule an appointment with a free, in-person enrollment assister – including at Brownsville Community Health Center – to get coverage right away.

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