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Cuts to Community Health Centers Hit Rural Americans Hardest

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 21, 2012

A report from the National Association of Community Health Centers notes that a lack of access to primary care services and other barriers to healthcare lead invariably to poor health outcomes. That, of course, creates higher healthcare costs as uninsured or underinsured patients—or insured patients with few primary care options—go to the emergency room for non-emergency care. 

Dan Hawkins, senior vice president for policy and research at NACHC, says the grant money, which can be as much as $650,000 per site, typically accounts for about 20% of the operating budget for most community health centers.

"It is the foundational support. It is what allows them to go out and hire staff and secure a facility to begin providing services," Hawkins tells HealthLeaders Media.

"Every payer reimburses after the fact. The rest of it comes from Medicare/Medicaid, private insurance.  About one in six health center patients has private insurance, some state and local support, philanthropic support, and even money from the patients themselves. But the health centers can't get any of that until they're able to get the ball rolling. That is what the grant does. It gives them the ability to get off the ground and get going," he says.

Hawkins says that community and rural hospital leaders "should be working overtime to help make these health centers operational."

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2 comments on "Cuts to Community Health Centers Hit Rural Americans Hardest"


Mark (3/22/2012 at 6:57 PM)
Health centers are "an integral part of the health care system because they provide care for the low-income, for the newly arrived, and they take the pressure off of our hospital emergency rooms." ~ George W Bush

Kevin Stuckey (3/21/2012 at 1:55 PM)
Based upon the assumption that government exists to serve society, this is a classic example of one of two failures in government "leadership": 1st - creating a dependent sector of society by eroding the free-market incentives that make it financially viable make healthcare services available and 2) eliminating the necessary financial resources that partially address the initial failure (#1 above). The ultimate result is an increasing population that becomes MORE dependent upon the government as resource provider. If we are blind to that fact, ultimately we are destined to be wards of the State. Welcome to ObamaCare!