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New Report: Nation's Health Care Centers Critical Providers of Primary Care

August 6, 2007

A majority of the South Dakotans who lack health insurance are finding care through the state's 27 Community Health Centers. The centers provide critical primary care, and they're not unique to South Dakota. A new study shows the nation's Community Health Centers are providing service to more than 16 million Americans facing sky-rocketing health costs, inadequate access to primary care, or a host of other economic pressures. Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas C.E.O. Scot Graff says South Dakota's health centers have experienced significant growth in the state's neediest communities.

"As part of our 20 years of being a primary care association in the Dakotas, this year, or our 2006 data year, is showing our community health centers have reached a significant benchmark, where 75,000 North and South Dakota citizens have received service at community health centers."

The new "Access Granted" study is being released as part of National Health Center Week. Graf notes that Community Health Centers have helped many of South Dakota's uninsured get affordable care.

"That's one of the key findings of the "Access Granted" report is the cost of care in community health centers nationally is about $1,800 per person, much lower than many other reports from other types of providers in the country."

An estimated 60,000 South Dakotans don't have insurance. Graff points out that the report also shows that the U.S. health care crisis has shifted to include many middle class Americans, not just the poor and disenfranchised. He believes that's another reason the role of Community Health Centers is growing.

"In South Dakota, Community Health Centers had an overall economic impact of almost $33 million, provide 420 jobs in these 27 communities. They are not only a significant health care service, but they are also an economic engine in their communities. So, the impact is significant, and it's a growing service to our Dakota communities."

David Law/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - SD