Republican budget plan would end community health center funding

$1.3 billion cut would cost billions more in rising costs
By
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 9:23 am | More from The Michigan Messenger

Image by Matt MahurinA budget proposal introduced by Congressional Republicans last week would end federal funding for Community Health Centers, and that, experts say, would devastate a key program that provides access to health care for thousands of Michigan residents.

The proposal comes as part of a plan to fund the remainder of the current fiscal year. The current budget plan will eliminate $100 billion in spending for the remainder of the current fiscal year. Congress has to approve funding, either by continuing resolution or by final budget allocation, by March 4, of the government runs out of cash.

The GOP took over the U.S. House promising to cut $100 billion from the budget, but an earlier Republican proposal only cut $74 billion, and the Tea Party politicians raised a ruckus, resulting in a proposal to cut the remaining $26 billion.

Included in that $100 billion cut is a line item to reduce funding for Community Health Centers by $1.3 billion. Nationwide, the programs serve 20 million people, says Dana Lawrence, communications manager for the Michigan Primary Care Association. In Michigan, there are 29 federal recognized Community Health Centers serving 600,000 patients.

Lawrence says of the residents served in Michigan, 68 percent fall below the federal poverty line, while 75 percent of them are either insured by Medicaid or have no insurance at all.

“All told, Michigan Health Centers stand to lose $5,593,356 in immediate funding and 96,986 patients would lose access to care,” Lawrence said.

But these numbers only tell part of the story. Under the Affordable Care Act, Community Health Centers are envisioned as a key point of entry and expansion of access to medical care. It the cut comes through as proposed, Lawrence says that will halt that expansion in its tracks.

Marcus Cheatham, spokesperson for the Ingham County Health Department, said the Community Health Centers are key to getting a grip on health care costs.

“You are building out the capacity to serve those people who are currently uninsured to have a place to access care,” Cheatham said. He notes that right now, the country does not have the capacity to provide medical care the millions of uninsured patients. The health centers were part of a plan that involves “many moving parts” envisioned by the Affordable Care Act. Those centers, he says, are key to making sure all the people who will be going onto insurance rolls as a result of health care reform have a place to get services.

“They (the Congressional Republicans) are basically say we no longer have a plan for uninsured folks,” Cheatham said. “It’s really really serious. It is really calling into question whether Congress has a plan on what to do with healthcare access for all these uninsured patients.”

Cheatham points out that the Afforable Care Act envisions allowing many Americans to enroll in Medicaid. The problem with that, he notes, is that many current providers simply cannot afford to accept new Medicaid patients because of the low reimbursement rates for services. The health centers, he says, are exceedingly more cost efficient, and thus are able to accept new Medicaid enrolled patients at those low reimbursement rates.

Because the only alternative to such centers for uninsured patients is the emergency room, both Lawrence and Cheatham say that cutting that $1.3 billion will dramatically raise costs for the government, for medical providers and for insured patients.

“This cut would drastically raise costs in the health care system generally, and the Medicaid program specifically, by billions of dollars as patients who lose access to primary care seek care in emergency rooms and have worsening health,” says Lawrence. “The expansion of Health Centers under the Affordable Care Act is projected to save up to $122 billion in total health care costs between 2010 and 2015.”

The use of emergency rooms by non-emergency patients often result in hospitals taking large hits to their financial bottom lines. That cost is in turn spread out and added to the billing of insurance covered patients, says Cheatham.

“Health Centers are extremely cost-effective – currently saving the health care system $1,093 per patient per year through efficient delivery of needed care,” says Lawrence.

Comments

10 Comments

World Spinner
Trackback posted February 15, 2011 @ 10:42 am

Republican budget plan would end community health center funding ……

Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……


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Anonymous
Comment posted February 16, 2011 @ 12:03 am

Everyone winds up in the system one way or another. The folks the Reps would deny care to by cutting this funding will just wind up in emergency rooms worse off than if they’d gotten proper care from the start. So instead of paying through taxes we pay more through higher premiums. Either way we pay. We’re all in this together when it comes to the health system. We are our brother’s and sister’s keepers. That’s guaranteed by the Hippocratic Oath. The question is just about how to have an overall efficient health system and lower costs. I just don’t think pushing people into emergency rooms for primary care is the answer. This is typically short-sighted and small-minded stuff from the Reps.


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Pingback posted February 15, 2011 @ 10:39 pm

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Anonymous
Comment posted February 16, 2011 @ 6:28 am

Let us take an example of Texas. The “Wise Health Insurance” is quite popular in Arizona. It provides so many offers for the low income people.


Llewis45432@yahoo.com
Comment posted February 18, 2011 @ 12:52 am

I work for a community health care center in Ohio. If this bill passes I could lose my position along with the other workers and the doctors. Does the government ever truly look at people at human beings or just numbers. I pay my taxes and that is how the politicians recieve there pay. I wonder how they would feel if they might lose there healthcare doctor or a place to recieve care when there is no money. I am sick of our government looking for cuts. Why don’t they stop with there private jets. And the 3,300 dollar pay checks. Wow I wish I was living there life. I feel the american people are fed up with thngs being taken away from us that really matter. Especially when we did not put us in this mess our government did.


MECHELLE
Comment posted February 20, 2011 @ 5:05 am

I HAVE AM PROUD TO SAY THAT I HAVE BEEN EMPLOYEED BY A COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE CENTER IN VA FOR OVER 20 YEARS. WE PROVIDE EXCELLANT HEALTH CARE AND SUPPORT IN OUR SMALL COMMUNITY. WE GIVE LOVE AND GREAT CARE TO ALL OF OUR PATIENTS. WE SERVE THE UNDERINSURED, UNINSURED AND INSURED POPULATION AND EVERONE GETS THE SAME GREAT CARE. WITHOUT COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE CENTERS OUR COMMUNITIES WOULD SUFFER GREAT LOSS OF LIFE, A PRIVATE OR COOPERATE OWNED HEALTH CARE PORVIDERS IS JUST LOOKING TO MAKE THIER NEXT $$$$$$ BUT WE AT COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE CENTERS TRULY CARE AND LOVE OUR PATIENTS WE GO ABOVE AND BEYOND TO HELP EACH PATIENT WE HAVE NO FAVORITES WE JUST WANT TO HELP THE SICK AND HURTING OUR OF COUNTRY. WE SEE THE PEOPLE THAT BUILT THIS GREAT NATION, THEY CHOOSE COMMUITY HEALTH CARE CENTERS BECAUSE OF GREAT MEDICAL CARE AT RESONABLE RATES. WE HAVE FORGOTTEN WHAT OUR COUNTRY WAS BUILT ON, NEIGHBORS HELPING EACH OTHER AND NOT TRYING TO FILL OUR POCKETS WITH OTHER PEOPLES MONEY. IF YOU CUT OUR FUNDING YOUR CUTTING DOWN THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THIS COUNTRY STRONG. GOD WAN’T US TO TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER. JESUS WOULD NEVER TAKE AWAY ANYONE’S RIGHT TO LIVE A HEALTHY LIFE. JESUS SAID WE SHOULD TAKE CARE OF OUR WIDOWS, ORPHANS (CHILDERN) AND OUR POOR. OUR COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED ON TAKING CARE OF OTHERS. WHAT IF YOUR MOTHER OR FATHER HAD NO INSURANCE WHO WOULD TAKE CARE OF THEM. WHAT IF YOU WERE OUT OF WORK AND HAD A SICK CHILD AND WERE REFUSED CARE BECAUSE YOUR COUNTRY TOOK AWAY THE ONLY HEALTH CARE YOU COULD GET ACCESS TO. THINK ABOUT OTHERS INSTEAD OF YOUR PADDED OFFICE CHAIRS, WARM HOMES, AND FULL STOMACHES BEFORE YOU CUT DOWN YOUR FELLOW AMERICANS AND LEAVE THEM WITHOUT HEALTH CARE. SAME ON YOU IF YOU VOTE TO TAKE AWAY MONEY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE PAY IN TAXES. SLEEP WELL IF YOU CAN


Captbald
Comment posted February 22, 2011 @ 9:43 am

Don’t the Republicans realize that when they kick all those patients out of their health centers ( I think they said 88,000) that thats a lot more votes than the ones that sent them to Washington.


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Pingback posted March 31, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

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Shelia1532
Comment posted April 13, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

Considering the Medicare/Medicaid dollars spent in hospital emergency room care, dollars spent to maintain primary care community clinics result in tremendous savings. Excluding the value of preventative care and looking only at the savings recognized from providing in-office services for non emergent health care problems makes these clinics an economic asset.


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