A report from the National Association of Community Health Centers notes that a lack of access to primary care services and other barriers to healthcare lead invariably to poor health outcomes. That, of course, creates higher healthcare costs as uninsured or underinsured patients—or insured patients with few primary care options—go to the emergency room for non-emergency care.
Dan Hawkins, senior vice president for policy and research at NACHC, says the grant money, which can be as much as $650,000 per site, typically accounts for about 20% of the operating budget for most community health centers.
"It is the foundational support. It is what allows them to go out and hire staff and secure a facility to begin providing services," Hawkins tells HealthLeaders Media.
"Every payer reimburses after the fact. The rest of it comes from Medicare/Medicaid, private insurance. About one in six health center patients has private insurance, some state and local support, philanthropic support, and even money from the patients themselves. But the health centers can't get any of that until they're able to get the ball rolling. That is what the grant does. It gives them the ability to get off the ground and get going," he says.
Hawkins says that community and rural hospital leaders "should be working overtime to help make these health centers operational."