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MI Community Health Centers Fight to Keep Funding Alive

November 18, 2011

LANSING, Mich. - Nearly 600,000 Michigan residents visit Community Health Centers each year, but the centers could be affected if Congress makes cuts to Medicaid.

Doug Paterson, director of state policy for the Michigan Primary Care Association, says 41 percent of Michigan Community Health Center patients are Medicaid recipients. Because of the unique public-private partnership, he says, the centers actually generate $44.87 in Medicaid cost savings per member per month compared with persons served in the fee-for-service system, saving Michigan Medicaid nearly $18 million more than if these same people were served in other settings.

"If you get that high quality and you've proven that you can save costs, why is that something that we'd not want to invest more in rather than less?"

Two Michigan congressmen - Republicans Fred Upton and Dave Camp - sit on the "super-committee," which has until Wednesday to submit its recommendations for cutting at least $1.2 trillion from the federal budget in the next 10 years.

Paterson acknowledges that all federal programs are on the table when it comes to making cuts this deep, but says Community Health Centers have a proven track record of providing cost-effective, accessible primary care and should be considered an investment.

"Health centers provide dental services. We're integrating behavioral health services into many of them more and more all the time. Most of them, if there's any kind of population with other languages, provide translation services, transportation. That's not something that a regular physician's office is doing."

More than 20 million patients nationwide use Community Health Centers, which are located in every state.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI