FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, Aug. 26, 2013
Senior Public Relations Strategist
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224
WASHINGTON — State and local health officials, researchers, and members of the public now have an improved tool to identify constituents whose geographic or economic status hinders access to health care and who would benefit from expanded community health center programs, insurance subsidies in the newly formed insurance exchanges, or expanded Medicaid coverage.
That tool — the recently re-vamped and re-launched UDS Mapper program — expands policy makers' ability to identify holes in the health care safety net, demographic and socio-economic factors that hinder access to health care, and the populations who qualify for Affordable Care Act-related insurance plans and to plan accordingly, according to Andrew Bazemore, MD, MPH, director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, which developed both programs.
"As we approach insurance expansion under the Affordable Care Act, health care planners need information that shows not only insurance coverage, but also the current landscape and utilization gaps of the primary care safety net in order to ensure expanded access to care," said Bazemore.
An online tool, the UDS Mapper combines patient origin data from federally funded Health Center Program grantees and look-alikes, socioeconomic and demographic information from the U.S. Census with several other data sources, including areas designated as medically underserved or health professions shortage areas; the locations of hospitals, health centers that receive grants from Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act; and other federally supported health programs such as rural health centers. The information results in a map that compares Health Center Program grantees and look-alikes' patient data to the community and population, then shows spatial relationships between the program, the community attributes and other resources.
The Robert Graham Center worked with the Health Resources and Services Administration and the health research firm John Snow, Inc., to develop and launch the original UDS Mapper site in 2010 as part of its HealthLandscape platform, the Center's landmark program that allows users to create maps and tables that describe the distribution of health services, populations at risk and health outcomes from health and primary care data, as well as the availability of primary care, the physician workforce and the locations served by health providers.
The expanded UDS Mapper enables health care entities to create maps and tables that describe areas served by Health Center Program participants, the gaps in the safety net, and the neighborhoods or regions that might hold the highest priorities for health center expansion.
"As state and local health officials implement the health insurance marketplaces or expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, they'll need information about their constituents who need services," said Jennifer Rankin, PhD, Project Director for the UDS Mapper. "This free online site allows them to get information — for example — about people who don't have insurance and or access to Health Center Program grantees or look-alikes. This is particularly important as state and local health policy makers implement their state insurance marketplaces and Medicaid expansion. They need to know where people need information and coverage, and the new UDS Mapper program provides that information. It will allow them to see pockets of people who are eligible for expanded Medicaid coverage or — in states that are not expanding Medicaid — people who would be eligible for a subsidy in the insurance marketplace."
The Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Primary Care and Family Medicine conducts research and analysis that brings a family practice perspective to health policy deliberations in Washington. Founded in 1999, the center is an independent research unit working under the personnel and financial policies of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
The information and opinions contained in research from the Graham Center do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the AAFP.