Wilmington, NC – Organizers are calling it Cape Fear HealthNet - a plan to extend reliable health care coverage to Brunswick and New Hanover County's poor and uninsured.
The plan would link existing services, like free clinics and county health departments, with private doctors and discounted medications, to create a sort of HMO for the poor, according to Scott Whisnant with New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Whisnant says his hospital already sees many of these patients in its ER. "And everybody knows that's the most expensive setting both for the patient and for the hospital," he says, "and when the hospital has to spend more to cover that, it detracts from what they're able to do for other patients."
Whisnant calls funding the golden issue' for the plan. He says that while some of the seed money for Cape Fear HealthNet may come from grants, ultimately, the region will have to decide if it's willing to pay to insure the poor.
"It's a very ambitious program," he says, "Other communities in the state have managed to do this, with varying levels of success."
Whisnant describes Cape Fear HealthNet as well along in the planning stages, with the first services slated to become available in the next six months.