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WYO Community Health Centers: 20,000 Depend on Them

A new report that details the benefits and 50-year history of Community Health Centers notes that they are key to getting affordable health care to folks in Wyoming. A big chunk of the federal funding that keeps the clinics open is set to expire in October, unless Congress acts. Credit: Wyoming Primary Care Association.
A new report that details the benefits and 50-year history of Community Health Centers notes that they are key to getting affordable health care to folks in Wyoming. A big chunk of the federal funding that keeps the clinics open is set to expire in October, unless Congress acts. Credit: Wyoming Primary Care Association.
March 18, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - A new report that details the benefits and 50-year history of Community Health Centers notes that they are key to getting affordable health care to folks in rural areas - which describes most of Wyoming.

Nearly 20,000 Wyomingites receive care at 13 health centers in Wyoming, said Jan Drury, chief executive of the Wyoming Primary Care Association. Those centers rely mostly on federal funding, and a big chunk of that money is set to expire in October unless Congress acts.

Drury said the loss of federal funding would be devastating for many frontier patients.

"If funding is cut in 2015," she said, "approximately 4,000 of those patients would not be able to continue the high quality and affordable health care they received."

The new report from the National Association of Community Health Centers noted that the system has lowered Medicare spending and keeps Medicaid expenses in check, and that the centers generate economic benefits for communities. Drury said if funding disappears, Wyoming will feel the economic pinch.

"Down from 146 jobs that were directly generated by health-center programs," she said, "and a decrease of direct economic impact of $16 million to the Wyoming economy."

The clinics are one-stop shops for physicians, dentists, pharmacy services and behavioral health treatment. Patients are accepted whether or not they have health insurance, and fees are based on a sliding scale.

The report, "Community Health Centers Past, Present and Future: Building on 50 Years of Success," is online at nachc.com.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY