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Tomorrow are the South Carolina primaries, and former VP Joe Biden leads in the poll, followed by winner of the first three contests, Sen. Bernie Sanders and businessman Tom Steyer. Some Republican South Carolinians may vote for Sanders because they want closed primaries.

Community Health Centers Save as Much as $24 (B) Billion A Year

November 23, 2009

RICHMOND, Va. - The National Association of Community Healthcare Centers has compared the costs of serving patients treated in the Centers to the costs of serving people elsewhere. It found that the Centers saved the country between $9.9 billion and $24 billion a year.

In Virginia, 105 Community Health Center sites serve more than 240,000 people, says Rick Shinn, a spokesman for the Virginia Community Healthcare Association. They provide health care to people with and without health insurance.

"The reduction in cost to Medicaid, the reduction in cost of providing appropriate primary care - as opposed to, say, emergency room treatment, which is going to be much more expensive - is obviously a major cost savings to the country."

When unemployment is on the rise, people losing their regular health insurance can turn to Community Health Centers for treatment and same money, Shinn says.

"This is particularly true for those who have chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma and so forth, where you're going to see multiple visits for disease conditions that are not properly managed."

Every dollar spent on preventative care, especially for people with chronic problems like asthma, actually saves the state money in the long run, Shinn explains.

"When you properly manage these disease conditions in a primary care setting, obviously it follows you're going to reduce your health care costs. That's very important to Virginia as well as to the country."

The report is available from Rick Shinn by calling 804-378-8801 x19 or at www.VaCommunityHealth.org.

Aries Keck, Public News Service - VA