Affordable Care Act’s effects on health costs still unclear (Roanoke Business)

After 33 years serving uninsured patients in Christiansburg, the Free Clinic of the New River Valley changed its name and business model in January.

The facility is now known as the Community Health Center of the New River Valley and is one of about 1,200 community health centers across the U.S., including New Horizons Healthcare in Roanoke and the Tri-Area Community Health Center in Ferrum.

CEO Michelle Brauns says the change came about as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act—the health-care reform law passed by Congress in 2010. The law, intended to provide better, more affordable health coverage, mandates that, with a few exceptions, every American be covered by health insurance or pay a penalty that will increase each year. Over time, it should dramatically decrease the number of uninsured Americans—dramatically affecting a clinic whose mission was to serve the uninsured. Faced with an uncertain future, the free clinic chose a different route.

My story looks not just at the former NRV free clinic, but also the bigger picture of what may or may not happen with long-term costs as a result of the health care reform law. Read the full story in the November issue of Roanoke Business.