Study: Health-Center Cuts Mean Loss of $15 Billion in Long Run

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WASHINGTON and NEW YORK—A policy research brief released this week by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services evaluates the consequences of the proposed reductions in federal health center funding for access and cost savings.

The brief, titled “The Health Care Access and Cost Consequences of Reducing Health Center Funding,” estimates that the $1.3 billion reduction in FY 2011 health center funding approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on February 20, 2011 would translate into a loss of approximately $15 billion in cost savings. Each dollar withdrawn from health center funding reductions, equates to a loss of $11.50 in potential savings. Because of their location and emphasis on comprehensive patient centered health care, community health centers have had a positive impact on outcomes, while also reducing costs. Without access to health center services, millions of patients with ongoing health needs are likely to forgo or delay care, and ultimately seek care in more costly settings. Although the spending bill was rejected by the U.S. Senate on March 10, 2011, final measures for health centers are yet to be determined.

“Federal investments in health centers strengthen and expand primary care capacity,” said Peter Shin, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and co-author of the study. “Reducing health center funding not only jeopardizes their ability to expand access to quality care for vulnerable populations, but also reduces their positive impact on racial and ethnic health disparities, birth outcomes, local economies, and federal and state health care costs.”

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