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Growth of MI Community Health Centers Uncertain

August 9, 2011

LANSING, Mich. - This is National Health Center Week in Michigan, an observance meant to raise awareness of an organizational model which some say is taking the lead on health care reform.

Nearly 600,000 Michigan residents currently receive care at Community Health Centers across the state. The centers, located in under-served areas, are non-profit, community-based organizations that allow patients to access multiple health services under one roof. The majority of patients are Medicaid recipients, and those without insurance pay on a sliding fee scale.

Kim Sibilsky, executive director of the Michigan Primary Care Association, says these unique public-private partnerships generate billions of dollars in savings each year.

"We've been able to prove that we actually save the state approximately 44 dollars per beneficiary, per month in Medicaid."

Sibilsky says the centers have enjoyed broad bipartisan support for several decades. However, she says, proposed cuts to Medicaid could greatly affect their ability to expand and serve even more Michigan communities.

She notes that the number of Community Health Centers doubled under the Bush administration and was slated to do so again under President Obama, but the recent negotiations on the debt ceiling could put that growth at risk.

"I think that, any more, any program that is discretionary, and they are discretionary, is on the table."

The theme for National Health Center Week 2011 is "Serving Locally, Leading Nationally." It's estimated that the centers, which are located in all 50 states, serve over 20 million Americans each year.

For more information or to find a Community Health Center in Michigan, visit www.mpca.net

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI