Congress, Obama Administration Should Increase Federal Spending On Community Health Centers, Opinion Piece States

January 23, 2009 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

Community health centers “provide quality primary care at a significant savings for millions of Americans,” but “60 million Americans still lack meaningful access to primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) write in an opinion piece in The Politico. They add, “So as Congress and the new administration take on both our economic and health care crises, putting significantly more resources into community health centers would be a smart way to save money, create jobs and help millions of Americans stay healthy.”

According to the authors, “community health centers provide primary medical care to 18 million Americans in underserved rural areas and inner cities,” regardless of their health insurance status, and require payment for services on a sliding-scale basis. They add, “No patient who walks into a community health center is turned away because he or she cannot pay.”

In the event that federal spending on community health centers increased to “less than 0.5% of overall U.S. spending on medical care, we could provide primary health care to every American who needs it,” the authors write, adding, “In addition to meeting compelling needs, this upfront investment would more than pay for itself,” as “[r]eports indicate that overall medical expenses for health center patients are 41% lower than for patients seen elsewhere.” According to the authors, “It is not often that we are presented such a clear win-win situation: a program that meets critical needs while reducing expenditures by more than it costs.”

They write, “In the richest country in the world, no American should go without basic health care,” adding, “Community health centers are a critical lifeline for millions of Americans, and we must build upon their success by making them available to all those in need” (Sanders/Clyburn, The Politico, 1/21).

Reprinted with kind permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

© 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.



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