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Community Health Centers Benefit CO's Health, Economy

Colorado Community Health Centers are making big contributions to the state's economy and health. (imtmphoto/iStockphoto)
Colorado Community Health Centers are making big contributions to the state's economy and health. (imtmphoto/iStockphoto)
June 10, 2016

DENVER - Colorado's 20 Community Health Centers generate $782 million in economic activity in the state, according to a new report by the Colorado Community Health Network.

Ross Brooks, CEO with Mountain Family Health Centers, says direct contributions come from purchasing goods and services from local businesses, and employees also spend their paychecks largely where they work and live.

"Community Health Centers around the state continue to be important growing economic generators for our local economies," says Brooks. "One of the real cool things is that our outcomes continue to improve and we're showing improved population health."

Brooks says the centers deliver primary, behavioral, and dental care to more than 650,000 Coloradans, many in the state's most economically-challenged counties. The study found centers create over 6,700 jobs and help save state taxpayers almost $665 million in health-care costs each year.

The savings add up because Medicaid patients served by these local clinics are one-third less likely to have an emergency room visit or a preventable hospital admission.

Annette Kowal, CEO with the Colorado Community Health Network, says despite serving many low-income patients with complex medical needs, the centers produce health outcomes equal to or better than other providers.

"Once you become a patient at a community health center, it becomes your health-care home," says Kowal. "And they make sure you get in for your routine visits, and that keeps total health-care costs down by keeping people out of the emergency department in the hospitals."

The economic impact study conducted by independent consultants at Capital Link also found centers contributed almost $100 million in tax revenues in 2014, and brought $98 million in federal grants to Colorado.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO