When Clare Ross couldn’t afford her $300 health insurance premium on top of her student loan payments, she turned to the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center.
The safety-net clinic was founded in 1974 to serve only women, many of whom, like Ross, couldn’t get care elsewhere. But the center is now expanding its services in order to serve a wider demographic and receive federal funding under the Affordable Care Act.
Policy experts say health centers like this one will be instrumental in implementing the federal health law. Some of these health centers were founded decades ago to serve certain populations — such as women, ethnic minorities and LGBTQ people — but they are changing under health reform.