A new policy research brief released today by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services examines the characteristics of patients whose access to health center services is at risk because of a potential $1.3 billion in direct spending cuts for community health centers. Check the end of this report for a link to download the original research brief.
The cuts were approved by the United States House of Representatives on February 20, 2011, as part of legislation to trim $61 billion in discretionary spending for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.
“Health centers provide cost-effective care for high-risk patients,” said Peter Shin, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and co-author of the study. “Reducing health center funding impedes improvements in population health and limits the potential for significant savings in health care costs.”
The National Association of Community Health Centers’ (NACHC) estimates that 11 million patients are at risk of losing access to health center services as a result of these cuts. Using this estimate, national survey data from the federal Uniform Data Survey and Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, and published literature, the authors project that the at-risk population is comprised of:
- Over 10 million patients with incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level;
- 7.4 million racial/ethnic minority patients;
- 1.4 million low-income children under age 6;
- 2.3 million low-income patients with cardiovascular disease;
- 2 million low-income uninsured patients who will likely forgo care;
- Nearly one million uninsured families who will spend less on food and other basic needs for health care services.
The brief, titled “Who Are the Health Center Patients Who Risk Losing Care Under the House of Representatives’ Proposed FY 2011 Spending Reductions?” includes estimates of the impact of spending reductions for low-income patients, and finds that in general, the affected patient population is at elevated risk for serious and chronic health conditions that can result in high health care costs.
“Health centers are critical sources of high quality care for the nation’s most vulnerable urban and rural populations,” said Julio Bellber, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation. “The reductions will severely threaten the capacity of health centers to provide care in their communities.”
Download / Reference
Sara Rosenbaum, JD, Peter Shin, PhD, MPH, Leighton Ku, PhD, MPH. Who Are the Health Center Patients Who Risk Losing Care Under the House of Representatives’ Proposed FY 2011 Spending Reductions? The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services Department of Health Policy, Feb. 24, 2011.