Community Health Centers Poised for Expansion
"In our state we estimate it will affect about 400,000 people who would be eligible for Medicaid expansion that are not going to get it," Wiltz says. We are going to try our best to get them into traditional Medicaid and the health insurance exchanges, but it really doesn't make any economic sense let alone moral sense. It is purely politics and philosophy that is operating and it's unfortunate for the people who are suffering and who could benefit."
Wiltz says expanding Medicaid would save money because treating people in community health centers costs a fraction of what it would cost in an emergency room. "On average, a Medicaid patient seen in a health center is $110. That same person in a hospital setting is almost $800. We have demonstrated tremendous savings."
Community health centers have also been caught in the budget battle between the Obama administration and Congress. The Obama administration included $11 billion in the ACA for capital improvements to the 1,128 federally funded community health centers across the nation.
Congress, however, cut funding for health centers by $600 million in 2011. Also, sequestration cuts are expected to cost community health centers about $120 million, which some studies estimate would translate into 900,000 fewer patients served. Community health centers are stutter stepping.
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