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Community Health Center Leaders to Make Case for Saving Taxpayers Money

PHOTO: This week, Community Health Centers are making their case in Congress for keeping their federal funding in place. Courtesy Nat'l. Assn. of Community Health Centers.
PHOTO: This week, Community Health Centers are making their case in Congress for keeping their federal funding in place. Courtesy Nat'l. Assn. of Community Health Centers.
November 26, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. - As Congress continues its plan to reduce federal spending, Community Health Center leaders from almost every state will descend on Washington, D.C., this week to speak to Congressional leaders about the importance of keeping funding in place for the centers. Rod Manifold, executive director of Central Virginia Health Services, says their message to lawmakers will be that Community Health Centers actually save taxpayers money. He says they provide care at an average of $1.67 per patient per day.

"We actually are less expensive to the health care system. Because of the kind of care that we give at the primary care level, we ultimately reduce overall health care costs by more than 25 percent."

Manifold says the federal government provides a grant to Community Health Centers that covers about 20 percent of their annual budget, and that helps to pay for the uninsured. The rest comes from insurance payments and payments from patients. Patients are expected to pay for their care based on their ability to do so - but, he adds, no one is turned away. The Commonwealth has more than 100 Community Health Centers.

Manifold points out that Community Health Centers are in a great position to handle the influx of newly insured people, once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented. He cites Massachusetts, where 98 percent of residents have health insurance.

"Lots of people who get coverage then need care, and they have difficulty finding it. Community Health Centers are there in Massachusetts and around the country. It is expected, of course, that health centers will serve a major portion of the newly insured."

The Community Health Center model provides a "patient-centered medical home," Manifold says. In many cases, he explains, patients get a team that provides primary care as well as specialty care - such as dentistry and mental health - all under one roof.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA