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The Universal Appeal of Community Health Centers

The Universal Appeal of Community Health Centers

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Community health centers are a crucial source of health care for a diverse group of patients, providing preventive services, treatment, and care management for medically underserved communities.
Community health centers are a crucial source of health care for a diverse group of patients, providing preventive services, treatment, and care management for medically underserved communities.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Aug 03, 2011
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1Center for American Progress |  The Universal Appeal of Community Health Centers
 The Universal Appeal of Community Health Centers
More Funding Will Help Boost the Health of Our Nation’s Increasingly Diverse Population
Shivani Parikh August 2011
Communiy healh ceners are a crucial source o healh care or a diverse group o paiens, providing prevenive services, reamen, and care managemen or medically underserved communiies. Ta’s why hese ceners have enjoyed solid biparisan sup-por over he pas several decades.oday, hough, he paien load in communiy healh ceners around he naion is onhe rise. Te number o people wihou access o aordable healh care—56 million, orone-h o Americans , according o he Naional Associaion o Communiy HealhCeners—is growing because o rising healh care cossor individuals and amilies anddue o persisen unemploymen a near-double-digi percenages, which eliminaesemployer-based healh insurance or hose workers who lose heir jobs and or heiramilies, oo.Tis is why communiy healh ceners need more resources o deliver he bes care omore paiens. Te new healh reorm law recognizes he imporan role o communiy healh ceners and provides signican new unding or he expansion and creaion o new clinics. Tis issue brie presens he reasons why his unding mus be preserved asCongress and he Obama adminisraion grapple wih eors o rim our ederal budgedeci over he nex 10 years.
A history of bipartisan support
In a 2009 speechPresiden Barack Obamasaed, “healh care isn’ jus abou diagnos-ing paiens and reaing illness—i’s abou caring or people and promoing wellness.I’s abou emphasizing educaion and prevenion, and helping people lead healhier livesso hey don’ ge sick in he rs place.” FormerPresiden George W. Bushalso voiced
2Center for American Progress |  The Universal Appeal of Community Health Centers
his suppor o communiy healh ceners, saing ha communiy healh ceners are “aninegral par o he healh care sysem because hey provide care or he low-income, orhe newly arrived, and hey ake he pressure o o our hospial emergency rooms.Indeed, hroughou heir recen hisory, governmen leaders rom across he poliicalspecrum have worked o improve he availabiliy and qualiy o communiy healh ceners.In 2001 Presiden Bush signed ino law legislaion o increase he number o communiy healh ceners and heir paien loads, creaing or expanding1,200 clinics. Following hislegislaion, he Deparmen o Healh and Human Services coninued o recommendincreased unding or communiy healh cenerso suppor he increasing paien load.Te Naional Associaion o Communiy Healh Ceners srongly agrees. In 2010NACHC said ha he paien load o communiy healh ceners had risen o20 millionpaienswho were cared or a7,900 communiy healh cener siesaround he naion.  Alas, NACHC esimaed ha in 2009 here were56 million“medically disenranchised”individuals in he Unied Saes, meaning ha one-h o he populaion goes wihouready access o primary care. Communiy healh ceners alleviae he burden placed onhese paiens and hospials by providing hese individuals wih eecive care.
Improving access to care and closing the disparity gap
Communiy healh ceners provide behavioral, menal, and primary care services. Tiscomprehensive se o services helps people say healhy, manages heir healh care prob-lems, and reduces cosly visis o he hospial. Communiy healh ceners are oen hesole source o primary care or he populaions hey serve.Tis populaion oday includes a diverse array o low-income workers and heir amilies,mos o hem ehnic or racial minoriies, as well as individuals wih disabiliies, immigrans,and par o he gay and ransgender communiy—all underserved communiies prone oreceiving disparae healh care services. Te accompanying map shows ha more han hal o he paiens seen are ehnic or racial minoriies. Mos o hese individuals are workingpeople or children. Tese paiens are more likely o be a par o he50 million uninsured Americansbecause hey end o work low-wage jobs or which employers do no providehealh care coverage. Addiionally, long working hours, language barriers, and a lack o ransporaion oen prohibi many individuals rom regularly accessing care.
Cost benefits of community health care services
 Above all, communiy healh ceners’ ocus on prevenion and helping sem he progressiono chronic diseases—keeping individuals ou o hospials—will save our naion$17.6 bil-lion per year—coss atribued o hospial visis. Specically, hese ceners currenly save$1,262 per personand will coninue o cu paien coss by $1,520 per person by 2015.
3Center for American Progress |  The Universal Appeal of Community Health Centers
Chronic diseases such as ashma, high blood pressure, and diabeesreduce annual pro-duciviy by beween $200 and $440 per person. Minoriies accoun or a large percen-age o hose wih chronic diseases. For insance, Hispanics and Arican Americans havea muchhigher rae o developing diabees, hyperension, and hear disease han any oher ehnic or racial group.Dr. Augusus Whie o Harvard Medical School laid ou henancial consequences or he paiens hemselves, saing “i hese laborers and minoriy members do noge culurally compeen and adequae care, hey will no be able o work, creae anincome, and provide or heir amilies.” Families orgo expensive emergency roomcoss and are able opay an inexpensive co-pay when receiving care rom a commu-niy healh cener.
Affordable Care Act funding for community health centers
Te Aordable Care Ac coninues his suppor and expansion or communiy healhceners. Over he nex ve years, he healh reorm law will provide$11 billionor und-ing, expansion, and consrucion o communiy healh ceners across he counry. Moso his money will go specically o medically underserved areas, making healh caremore available o he people who need i mos.Communiy healh ceners will be able o build upon heir hisory o srong primary care and menal, pharmacy, and denal services. In addiion, communiy healh ceners will provide undamenal prevenive care services, which pave he way or long-ermhealh securiy. Te Ofce o he Surgeon General saysprevenion is essenialo keep Americans healhy, and hus lower healh care coss. According o he OSG, “wih beterhealh, aduls are more producive and a work or more days.”
 The many faces of community health centers
Te qualiy care a less cos ha communiy healh ceners provide o low-income work-ers rom diverse backgrounds hrough he Aordable Care Ac is only one aspec o henew law. Funding and expanding communiy healh ceners will bene many ohers inhe communiies hey serve, among hem:
Health care professionals and employees.
Te expansion and creaion o new com-muniy healh ceners will provide jobs or healh care proessionals and increaseincome or businesses delivering goods and serviceso communiy healh ceners. An increased income will also allow hese businesses o hire more employees.

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