Special Report: The Deteriorating Financial Health of New York State’s Health Centers
ealth centers (technically Comprehensive Diagnostic and Treatment Centers)are a vital source o primary care or underserved communities o New YorkState whose residents tend to be low-income amilies who are either uninsured orenrolled in Medicaid and other public insurance programs. In 2007 there were 95 suchhealth centers operating more than 400 sites and providing more than 5 million visits to approximately1.5 million patients.Located throughout the State—upstate and downstate, across urban, suburban, and rural communities—most o these health centers are in communities that the Federal government has designated as medicallyunderserved, where patients have ew—i any—primary care alternatives should the health centers close.The centers included in this study include both Federally Qualied Health Centers (FQHCs)
and non-FQHCs. In addition to health centers, hospitals and private practitioners are also important sources o careor these communities. These were not the ocus o this study, but they are subject to many o the samenancial and policy actors as health centers.The nancial distress evident in these ndings occurs at a moment when policymakers are pointing tothe critical need or primary care as part o the State’s agenda or improving access and quality o care.Primary care provides crucial services known to reduce health care costs, improve quality o care, andprevent and manage the rising tide o chronic illness that accounts or 75% o health care spending. Thisdistress occurs during an economic recession when health centers are more critical than ever or thecommunity-based jobs they generate as a source o care or the most vulnerable populations, and or theaccess to care they oer to those losing jobs and their health insurance.
2 FQHCs provide their services to all persons regardless o ability to pay. In return, FQHCs receive compensation rom the Federal government in the orm o acash grant to help cover the costs o caring or the uninsured, cost-based reimbursement or their Medicaid patients, and ree malpractice coverage.