WASHINGTON, DC and NEW YORK (June 19, 2014) A special federal fund to support community health centers expires after September 2015, creating a funding cliff for primary care clinics located in medically underserved areas. If this funding is not restored, and if more states do not expand Medicaid, the number of patients cared for by safety-net health centers could fall more than 25 percent or 7 million patients - by 2020. The loss of care for 7 million patients is equivalent to the population of the state of Arizona or the combined populations of Los Angeles and Houston.
These findings are revealed in research conducted by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University. The study analyzes the impact of government funding decisions on community health center capacity in the coming years and finds that without federal funding and expanded Medicaid, the number of patients served by community health centers will drop from 25.6 million in 2014 to18.8 million by 2020.
As the U.S. population ages and health insurance coverage grows under health reform, the need for primary care continues to rise. But if federal funding declines after 2015 when a special fund established under the Affordable Care Act expires and nearly half of states fail to expand Medicaid, health centers stand to lose a significant amount of their current capacity to reach populations and communities experiencing medical underservice for primary health care.
"Policymakers at both the state and federal level must act to support medically underserved communities that depend on health centers," says lead author of the report, Leighton Ku, PhD, MPH, a professor of health policy and director of the Center for Health Policy Research at Milken Institute SPH. "If they do not, our analysis suggests that millions of low-income Americans could lose
|Contact: Kathy Fackelmann
George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health