This letter was originally published in the Post & Courier: Letters to the Editor – January 4, 2011
Thank you for shining a light on our community’s work to provide better access to health care for the uninsured. It is important to me to share the honor of the Transformational Health Care Leader award with the 1,600 area physicians, all four of our area hospitals, the federally qualified health centers, county mental health departments, area DHEC and our majority funder, the Roper St. Francis Physicians Endowment. Tri-County Project Care is a collaborative effort to provide quality health care to the working uninsured in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
TCPC has proven to be a model that recognizes the needs of our neighbors and the physicians who treat them. We have empowered members to maintain their jobs, helped them increase their earnings and improved productivity for employers. Our network demonstrates that when local community health organizations and caregivers pool their services, we significantly reduce the cost of medical care for both uninsured individuals and small businesses alike.
The bipartisan health care committee continues to work toward better legislation allowing organizations like TCPC to be an integral part of our state’s plan. The aim of the committee is to provide access to quality health care at an affordable price for all South Carolinians. The commission agreed to decline the use of a state or federal exchange, due to the excessive financial burden on the state to run it, as well as the lack of local control.
Instead, the decision was made to explore a third option, a hybrid of the state and federal plans, in order to maintain control and leave burdensome administrative to the federal government. It would involve collaboration of community health programs and enable locally grown community programs to take care of patients not covered by the exchange.
Even with full implementation of the Accountable Care Act, there will be a sizable number of working uninsured with consequential decreased productivity and earnings and poorer overall health unless we provide a safety net through programs like TCPC.
The physicians, hospitals, clinics, services and funders involved have shed competitive agendas to collectively provide quality care at a local level. Their efforts were recognized on a national level as a promising model of care.
This is something we all should be proud of. We will continue these efforts with your support.
Robert Fitts, M.D.
Founder and Medical Director
Tri-County Project Care
Johnnie Dodds Boulevard