One in Five CA Patients Gets Care at Community Health Centers
Thursday, August 10, 2023
National Health Center Week is in full swing with events across the country celebrating the impact of community health centers serving 20% of California patients.
Nationwide, one in 11 people get their medical care from a community health center, including 400,000 veterans, nearly 9 million children, and 1.4 million people experiencing homelessness.
Yamilet Valladolid, director of government and community affairs for Golden Valley Health Centers, which serve 150,000 patients in Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, explained the capabilities of the centers.
"We not only have preventive-care services, but we also provide mental health, dental, chiropractic, optometry, podiatry, allergists, urgent care," Valladolid outlined. "We even have an HIV/AIDS program."
New data showed in 2022, 31.5 million patients received care at 15,000 community health center locations across the country. Of those, 19% of patients are uninsured, 61% rely on government health care programs, and 41% live in rural areas.
Federal funding for the facilities will expire if it is not reapproved by Congress before Sept. 30.
Susan Burton, director of national grassroots advocacy for the National Association of Community Health Centers, said health centers need funding they can count on.
"Community health centers are small businesses. And imagine being a small business and not knowing if you're going to have funding coming in to pay your vendors or to sign a contract with your employees," Burton pointed out. "If community health centers don't know that they're going to have funding year to year, it's really difficult for them to recruit and retain providers."
The federal dollars represent 70% of community health centers' income. An analysis by the National Association of Community Health Centers projected almost 7 million patients will lose access to care unless Congress acts to extend funding.
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