Dallas Attorney Predicts Obama's Health Care Act Will Be Good for ... Local Real Estate

Homeland Security Affairs
Attorney Lew Lefko, a partner in Renaissance Tower-based Winstead PC, has worked in some aspect of the health-care profession for most of his career. Hence his appearance on this morning, where he tells Jennifer Duell Popovec that Texas stands to gain plenty from President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Specifically, he says, just think of all the Federally Qualified Health Centers we'll need when that thing really kicks in between now and 2015.

By way of background, a FQHC sets up in a "medically underserved area" and, per the feds' definition, provides "primary care services regardless of your ability to pay. Services are provided on a sliding scale fee based on your ability to pay." There are, at present, six such centers in Dallas County; they were a big part of President Bush's 2002 Federal Consolidated Health Center Program. (He said of them then, "I strongly support these community health centers because ... they are compassionate, they are cost effective, and America needs more of them.") About $11 billion is supposed to go toward building new centers (or clinics) or expanding and extreme-makeovering the existing ones. And, says Lefko, about $9.5 billion of that should go to commercial real estate'rs who've got just the vacant space needed for the coming build-out:
Lefko says FQHCs will be particularly needed in Texas, which is burdened by uninsured ranks of over 25% of its population -- about 6 million people. Roughly 1.3 million will be covered by health reform's expanded Medicaid program, and more than 2 million will qualify for subsidized coverage through the Texas health insurance exchange.

"There's just no way physicians in their medical offices and hospitals are going to be able to handle all the population that is going to become insured in 2014," Lefko tells ... Lefko contends that expanded and newly constructed community-based centers in medically underserved areas will be needed. "Opportunities exist for creative retrofitting of blighted buildings in rural downtowns and abandoned retail strip centers in urban Texas into FQHCs," he says.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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