Project Access was created to help uninsured individuals get the health care they need by linking local physicians, hospitals, and local health clinics that agree to donate their services to the individuals and families in need of health care services.
Why is Project Access Needed?
Many people in Hamilton County do not have health insurance. They work hard in one or more low-paying jobs with no health benefits. They earn too much to qualify for programs like TennCare, but not enough to pay for insurance and still afford other basic items such as food, clothing, and housing.
What Does Project Access Do?
- Develops and maintains physician, hospital, and other provider networks
- Determines and monitors client eligibility
- Provides care coordination services throughout the enrollment process
- Tracks and reports "Charity Claims" submitted by partners
- Directs patients to community-based resources that can help them address chronic health conditions
- Holds enrollees accountable with a patient responsibility contract
Community Health Partners
Health Centers & Community Partners
- Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department
- Erlanger's Dodson Avenue and Southside Community Health Centers
- CHI Memorial Health System Health Centers
- Volunteers in Medicine
- Homeless Health Care Clinic
- Chattanooga CARES
- LifeSpring Community Health
- Cherokee Health Systems
- Clinica Medicos
- Rehab South
- Mental Health Cooperative
- UT College of Medicine Chattanooga
- Urban League of Greater Chattanooga
- Chattanooga Homeless Coalition
- Regional Health Council
Project Access is physician-led with guidance from an Operations Council that includes representatives from key health care partners. The Council developed program policies and operational guidelines and continues to provide guidance for Project Access. The Council meets quarterly.
While all care services are donated by physicians, health centers, hospitals, and other partners, fundraising is conducted to provide for the Project Access care coordination team and program management. Funding partners for Project Access include:
- Tennessee Department of Health Safety Net Grant Program
- BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Community Trust
- Tennessee Health Foundation
- Chattanooga Ophthalmological Fund
Initial funding for the program was provided through grants from the Medical Society, the Erlanger, CHI Memorial and Parkridge hospital systems, and through a Healthy Communities Access Program grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.
The Project Access model was originated in Buncombe County, North Carolina, in 1996. In 2002, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society and then-President Joseph Cofer, MD, began work to bring the program to Hamilton County. Project Access saw its first patient in April 2004.
The program is managed by the Medical Foundation of Chattanooga (MFC), and 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation established and funded by physicians of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society in 1986. The Foundation's mission is to support and promote programs that result in the continual improvement of community health. The Foundation is governed by an 18-member board of directors that includes fourteen physicians, many of whom are past and present leaders of the Medical Society, and five non-physician members.
$23,814,809 Economic Impact of Donated Care
According to a regional economic analysis, charity services given away at hospitals and physician offices generate jobs and labor income. In order to provide these services, supplies must be purchased, and utilities and staff must be paid. The ripple effect in Hamilton County's economy is significant. $148.5 million of donated care (as of November 2016) generated 448 indirect jobs and 100 induced jobs for a total of 545 jobs.
- Indirect Labor Income: $19,750,726
- Induced Labor Income: $4,064,084
- Total: $23,814,810
Source: Greater Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce
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