Medicine on Wheels, a Heck of a Deal
Minnesota 2020 has been telling you about Mankato's Open Door Health Center and its mobile medical unit that delivers health care to countryside communities.
With a shortage of rural primary care health providers and a growing number of uninsured Minnesotans, Open Door has been filling critical primary care and dental services needs to patients at a lower cost than traditional, private clinics.
Recently, the clinic became one of 219 health centers nationwide to receive federal grant funding for new health care access points. Cook Area Health Services and United Family Practice Center Inc. also recieved grants in Minnesota. The money comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services via the Affordable Care Act.
Open Door plans on using the $487,500 HHS grant to expand its mobile health services to areas that do not have Federally Qualified Health Centers, including Sibley, Murray, and Cottonwood counties.
Not only do these help people in need, but they make good, economic sense. By expanding access to preventative/primary care, Open Door saves money by reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency room visits while increasing long-term health. One study looked a mobile health service in Boston and found a $36-to-$1 return on investment.
Programs like Open Door and its mobile health services wing play a crucial role in providing a health care safety net for Minnesotans. But they shouldn't be doing it alone; we need to enact substantial reform that would enhance Open Doors' reach and funding stability, because everybody should have access to quality and affordable care.