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Cuts to Community Health Centers Hit Rural Americans Hardest

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 21, 2012

"Thirdly, health centers have formed partnerships to secure other kinds of funding for home health agencies and visiting nurses and other kinds of partnerships with hospitals," he says. "So whether it's from a business perspective, from a let's-keep-the-doors-open perspective, or a partnership perspective there are many reasons why rural hospitals should support the opening or rural health centers."

The NACHC report notes that rural counties with community health centers had 25% fewer uninsured in the emergency room for ambulatory care sensitive conditions, compared with counties without a health center.

"Most importantly even if that rural hospital has an emergency room, who wants to see it crowded with people who don't need to be there but they don't have anywhere else to go?" Hawkins says.

The study also found that community health centers generate about $5 billion annually to rural communities through employment and supplier purchases.

It is hard to say if Congress or the White House would respond to a concerted effort by rural healthcare providers to call for the reinstatement of funding levels for community health centers.

But it's not a hard argument to make or to grasp. Rural healthcare providers should make the case for community health centers even if our elected representatives seem immunized against calls for logic and common sense.

It's in everyone's best interest.


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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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!