E H C R

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June 2010
August 2007
EXPANDING HEALTH CENTERS UNDER HEALTH CARE REFORM:
DOUBLING PATIENT CAPACITY AND BRINGING DOWN COSTS
Federally-Qualified Health Centers, also known as Community Health Centers, make up the largest national
network of primary care providers. Most health center patients have low incomes, are uninsured or publicly
insured, and are members of racial/ethnic minority groups. The recently enacted health care reform package
includes $11 billion in new, dedicated funding for the Health Centers Program over five years. $9.5 billion of
these resources will fund new health centers for communities in need and expand capacity at existing health
centers. By 2015, health centers will double their current capacity to 40 million patients. The remaining $1.5
billion in capital funding will allow health centers to modernize their aging buildings and build new facilities to
serve even more patients.
Estimated Number of Total Health
Center Patients Under Health Reform
45 Patients in Millions
40.0
40
35
31.6
30
26.0 26.5
27.7
25
20
16.1 17.0
14.1 15.0
13.1
15
12.4
11.3
10
5
18.8 19.4
Health Reform
Implementation Begins
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Sources: Data for federally-funded health centers only. FY00-08are from HRSA’s Uniform Data System. FY09 -15 are
NACHC projected estimates based on new federal funding. NACHC estimates future health center patients as a function of
new federal funding.
Note: Other factors are difficult to predict and include payer mix, growth in non-federal grant sources, and the costs of
care, which may be related to new patients having unmet health needs.
COST SAVINGS TO THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
Several research studies demonstrate that health centers yield substantial cost savings to the health care system
by reducing emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and other avoidable, costly care. A new study from
the George Washington University finds that the expansion of health centers will contribute to even higher
savings.1

Up to $122 billion in total health care costs would be saved between 2010 and 2015.

Health centers would save as much as $55 billion for Medicaid over the five-year period. Of that, the
federal government would save $32 billion, with states benefiting from the rest.
1
Ku et al. Using Primary Care to Bend the Curve: The Effect of National Health Reform on Health Center Expansions. Geiger
Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation. June 30 2010. Policy Research Brief No. 19
© National Association of Community Health Centers, Inc.
For more information, email [email protected]
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