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Smith House affiliation will aid Medicare patients

WILLSBORO The Smith House Health Care Center has reorganized to provide more options for its operations. Robin Pierce, Executive Director of the Smith House Health Care Center announced that on June 18, 2007, the center began participating in the Federally Qualified Health Center Look Alike (FQHCLA) Medicare Program, title XVIII of the Social Security Act. There is an agreement between Smith House Health Care Center and the Secretary of Health and Human Services in accordance with the provisions of the Social Security Act. The benefits of becoming an FQHCLA is two fold. Not only does it allow access to more funding for Smith House, it also had direct patient benefits. If a patient who is a Medicare recipient comes to an FQHCLA then their deductible is waived by Medicare. For 2007 that was $131, said Pierce. Pierce said certification is important to Smith House because it provides the Smith House with more diversification options. For instance, we have partnered with Willsboro Pharmacy to provide a pharmacy program for the uninsured individuals and now have an on site social worker that Samaritan Family Counseling provides to us, said Pierce. The change means the Smith House Health Care Center is no longer participating in the Rural Health Center (RHC) Medicare Program (title XVIII of the Social Security Act). The agreement between Smith House Health Care Center and the Secretary of Health and Human Services will be terminated in accordance with the provisions of the Social Security Act. Pierce said that not participating in the RHC program wouldnt have an effect on services. The program is more than 30 years old. It was a great idea at the time, but we found that it was limiting us in our desire to provide more programs. The board of Directors researched what our options were and found that the FQHCLA model was much more in line with our mission, said Pierce. Pierce said the Smith House would be able to expand services to provide mental health, oral health, and substance abuse counseling either on site or through affiliations. The Smith House offers a sliding fee scale to qualifying individuals as well as the pharmacy program. Our patients should see a seamless transition of services. We are proud of the fact that we have provided services to our community for over 30 years and look forward to a bright future under this new model of health care, said Pierce.

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