Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Helping Those in Need

The second week of August each year is dedicated to recognizing the service and contributions of Community, Migrant, Homeless and Public Housing Health Centers in providing access to affordable, high quality, cost-effective health care to medically vulnerable and underserved people in the U.S. Last year's commemoration was special because 2010 also marked the 45th Anniversary of the creation of the Health Centers Program.

America's Health Centers now serve over 20 million people (including 925,000 farmworkers and nearly 940,000 people who are homeless) in 7,000 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.  (http://www.healthcenterweek.org/)

One of the bright spots in America’s health care system, health centers provide a health care home to over 23 million people at 8,000 sites nationwide. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have long-recognized this model of care as one of the most effective programs and have always acknowledged the value of health centers and supported their expansion. Health centers are on track to expand their care to 40 million people over the next five years. With more health care homes in communities, we can reduce health care costs and unnecessary hospitalizations and visits to the hospital emergency rooms. According to the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), there are 60 million people in the country with limited or no access to primary care providers – a trend that shows no sign of improving with the economic recession. 

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