NACHC, which represents more than 1,200 FQHCs in every state and the territories, holds its national conference this week in Washington, DC. Their priorities are to call on President Obama and Congress to fix the "primary care cliff" and to extend mandatory health center funding for another five years, enabling health centers to reach 35 million patients by 2020.
FQHCs now serve about 22 million people at more than 9,000 sites and NACHC says the centers save $1,263 per patient per year because patients have access to timely and appropriate care. When the expected upsurge in demand for primary care kicks in NACHC says health centers could generate up to $24 billion a year in savings.
But to generate that savings and provide the access, Hawkins says, health centers have to be properly funded and they have to be fairly reimbursed by third-party payers.
Hawkins says community health centers would greatly appreciate any help that local providers can give in making the case for continued funding of FQHCs. "As civic and community leaders many in hospital leadership can speak to their elected officials and encourage them to support the continuation of funding for health centers," he says.
"That is what is going to keep those health centers functioning well in their community, and even allow them to reach and serve more of the population, among those who will be gaining coverage and who don't have a regular source of care today, and for those who will be left behind for whatever reason."