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Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

Midland Community Healthcare Services getting an influx of patients

Midland Community Healthcare Services is a federally qualified health center (FQHC).

MIDLAND, Texas — According to Midland Community Healthcare Services' CEO, Michael Austin, not many people know about their services, yet they've been serving our community for over 15 years at their women's clinic, pediatric clinic and right here at the Coleman clinic.

"We accept medicare, medicaid. We see patients on a sliding fee scale. One of the major tenants of being an FQHC is the willingness and ability to see patients regardless of their ability to pay," Michael Austin, CEO said.

FQHCs are federally qualified healthcare centers and there are 3 right here in Midland.

They have a sliding fee scale that kicks in for individuals within 200% of the federal poverty level.

The amount a person pays is based on their income.

They waive medical expenses for the homeless individuals or for anyone who is well below the federal poverty level.

"There's really no such thing as free healthcare. In reality, someone else is always paying for it be it the state, federal government, local taxes, somebody," Austin said.

So how is this model sustainable?

Midland Community Healthcare services gets reimbursed for costs by the federal government, but quite often, that doesn't cover everything.

"We operate on almost a $20M a year budget and about $6 to 7 million just right off the top gets written off for services we know we're not going to get reimbursed for," Austin said.

So, for what's not covered, they bill insurance agencies, get funding from Midland Memorial Hospital, use state grant money, and sometimes get additional funding from the federal government.

But their CEO said the pandemic has prompted considerable growth in the number of patients.

"There's a lot of families that the breadwinner perhaps got laid off, they don't have insurance or maybe they haven't been able to work for several months because of the pandemic and their insurance benefits have run out and we're here to help them as best we can," Austin said.

They're just trying to keep up with the demand.

"The goal is to improve the quality of life of the individuals we're interacting with and to keep them out of the emergency room," Austin said. 

If you're looking to get plugged in with Midland Community Healthcare Services, you should reach out to their patient assistance office at (432) 699-3817.