Community health centers (CHCs) play a key role in the U.S. health care safety net. They provide primary health care and other health services for medically underserved populations, including 1 in 8 Medicaid beneficiaries, 1 in 7 uninsured persons, 1 in 3 people in poverty, 1 in 10 minorities, and 1 in 9 rural Americans.
Forty-five million Americans remain uninsured today, and this number could well grow as the recession worsens. The loss of jobs that makes headline news each day, can lead to the loss of employer-sponsored health coverage. Many Americans who are losing their jobs will lose their employer-sponsored health coverage and be forced to look elsewhere, especially to the health care safety net, to meet their needs.
Congress has now approved a stimulus package that includes almost $2 billion for health center infrastructure. It is timely, then, to look at how community health centers fit in today’s system, and how they might fit in a reformed system. Who is being served by CHCs today? What role do CHCs play in easing the widespread primary care shortage? What are the challenges facing CHCs as they strive to meet the growing need? How should we evaluate the benefit derived from spending the stimulus money?
To address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform, with support from the United Health Foundation and the National Association of Community Health Centers, sponsored a February 23 briefing. Speakers were: Paloma Hernandez, Urban Health Plan, The Bronx, NY; Allison Coleman, Capital Link; Jim MacRae, HRSA; and Sara Rosenbaum, George Washington University. Ed Howard of the Alliance and Reed Tuckson of UnitedHealth Group co-moderated. Dan Hawkins of the National Association of Community Health Centers offered a welcome.
Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF)