Community Health Centers Have Past Bipartisan Support
SEATTLE – Community health centers provide care for people all across the state and many them live below the poverty line.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has announced she plans to nearly double community health center funding over the next decade. The policy proposal is due in part to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who will be joining Clinton at a rally today in New Hampshire.
But Dan Hawkins, senior vice president for research and policy with the National Association of Community Health Centers, says these centers also receive support on the other side of the aisle.
"The fact there has been a rare bipartisan consensus on the one hand may be a shocker in this day and age, but it really should come as no surprise,” he states. “Health centers have been around for over five decades, successfully rooting out sickness and poverty in some of the most challenged communities around the country."
According to the National Association for Community Health Centers, nearly 1 million Washingtonians were served by these centers in 2014. The vast majority of patients – nearly 70 percent nationwide – live at or below the federal poverty level.
Anita Monoian, president and CEO of Yakima Neighborhood Health Services, says health centers also reach beyond their exam rooms and address community issues.
"We're looking at homelessness, we're looking at drug abuse, we're looking at housing,” she explains. “And a lot of the health centers right now, for example, are an integral part of the effort to address the nationwide opioid epidemic and the Zika virus."
The National Association for Community Health Centers says centers save the health care system nearly $24 billion a year nationally by reducing hospitalizations and visits to emergency rooms.
Nationwide, the centers serve more than 25 million people a year.