State representative’s action would expand community health worker program
Streamlines the certification process for community health workers
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – State Representative Kim Moser is leading the way to address Kentucky’s healthcare worker shortage and increase access to care. Moser’s proposal, HB 525, streamlines the certification process for community health workers, who are frontline healthcare professionals helping medically underserved communities overcome barriers to care.
Community health workers have a unique close relationship and understanding of the area they serve and typically provide services through local clinics of all types. These healthcare workers focus on connecting communities to available health and social services, whether through education, support, or simply navigating the healthcare system. HB 525 would make these services a reimbursable Medicaid service.
“Most people know how difficult it can be to navigate health services and the medical system, and it shouldn’t be that way,” said Moser, chairman of the House Health and Family Services Committee. “Our goal is to bridge the gap between health disparities, which starts with meeting people where they are with someone they know and trust. Because of their familiarity and of the nature of their area and their resources, they often create a more comfortable environment for those otherwise reluctant to seek treatment.
Despite advances in modern medicine and Medicaid providing health care coverage to more than a third of the state’s population, Kentucky has seen no significant improvement in health outcomes. The state continues to rank among the worst in the nation in the majority of health indicators, including chronic disease. Moser and community leaders representing the underserved point out that having health insurance does not always equate to access to preventive care and ongoing services. These hurdles, along with finding the right outlet for engagement, underscore what many see as the Commonwealth’s most pressing health issue.
“Our state currently ranks near the bottom nationally in many health metrics, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease,” said Moser, a longtime advocate for better health. Population. “That’s why this program is essential to our public health system. Small steps like getting your annual exams or screenings can identify illnesses earlier when treatment is much more effective and less expensive. Community health workers are extremely successful in helping people understand the importance of maintaining their health.
The proposed measure would directly impact approximately 70% of the state’s population. Community health workers have long been recognized for their effectiveness in improving health outcomes and reducing medical costs. According to the state’s Rural Health Information Center, for every dollar invested, $11 in drugs and services provided in eastern Kentucky between 2001 and 2019.
HB 525 will also create a classification system for community health workers as well as a certification process with college credit through the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. This is in line with the Maison’s commitment to strengthening the talent pool in the field of healthcare.
Several community leaders joined Moser in celebrating the legislation on Feb. 17, including the Kentucky Office for Rural Health, Cabinet for Health and Family Services, CHI Saint Joseph Health, one of Kentucky’s largest comprehensive health systems, Kentucky Voices for Health and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
To learn more about HB 525 and how the legislation creates a system of navigators, listen to the remarks on the @KyHouseGOP Youtube.