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Steve Chiotakis: Low-income residents of New Orleans are noticing improvements to the quality of the health care they receive. A new study finds their care is more efficient and affordable and creates less medical debt than most American adults. Now that's thanks to an effort to boost up primary medical care after Katrina. From the Marketplace Health Desk at WHYY in Philadelphia, Gregory Warner reports.
Gregory Warner: New Orleans health care problems began long before Hurricane Katrina. If you were sick and uninsured:
CLAYTON WILLIAMS: You had to get on the bus and go downtown and wait in the emergency room at Charity Hospital.
Clayton Williams is with the Louisiana Public Health Institute. He says when floods from Katrina shut down Charity Hospital, low-income residents lost their main source of health care. Nonprofit health centers and community clinics cropped up to fill the void. Instead of rebuilding the hospital, a $100 million federal grant went towards incentives for the clinics to network with each other and improve their electronic records.
MELINDA ABRAHAMS: So that the clinics were actually eligible for more money if they met certain benchmarks, such as becoming better coordinated, accessible sites of care.
That's Melinda Abrahams of the Commonwealth Fund, which conducted the study. She says New Orleans is a good model for health care reform.
ABRAHAMS: The access for disadvantaged people in New Orleans is better than for the average American.
In Philadelphia, I'm Gregory Warner for Marketplace.