By: Sarah Snyder
MIDLAND - A trip to the doctor isn't exactly what it used to be. A change in the healthcare laws is not only adding a longer wait in many doctor offices but it's creating a hassle for folks living in the farther reaching areas of West Texas.
"Where are they going to get help?" Dr. Michael Austin, Chief Executive Officer with Midland Community Healthcare Clinics, said. "Who is their doctor? Do they have one? Do they have insurance? What do they need to do? "
Handfuls of questions with not many answers. Local clinics who work with low-income patients are finding their waiting lines are growing. During the summer, the Midland Community Healthcare Clinics typically notices a drop in the number of patients but that's not the case anymore - something they say may result from the new healthcare legislation.
"We have had some patients come to us because they haven't been able to get in to see a private doctor," Dr. Austin said. "Private doctors are having to curtail the number of medicare patients they're seeing."
Midland Community Healthcare clinics are aimed at providing care to people who have either limited access to doctors or who can't afford to get to a private practice. With the new health system changes, they're anticipating a huge growth. They've already begun to see a spike in medicare patients in their waiting rooms.
One of their main concerns is how to help the other counties in West Texas who may only have one or two doctors in town? An issue they say is most likely going to get worse, before it gets better.
"This is a big issue for West Texas," Dr. Austin said. "We have very sparce populations spread out over a huge area and how do you get doctors out there? How do you get people to care? This is going to be an ongoing issue."
Right now, they're prepping for expansions and already they've brought on a couple new physicians and several new nurses. The CEO tells NewsWest 9, over the next year they'll consider adding on additional space and looking for ways to continue serving people across the Permian Basin.