In the coming year, the nation’s Community Health Centers will serve more people than ever with patient numbers projected to reach 29 million – that’s one in 12 Americans, according to estimates from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). The new numbers were released as communities across the country celebrate National Health Center Week 2019 #NHCW19 (August 4th-10th).
The growth in numbers of health center patients and integrated services signal a rising demand for affordable and comprehensive preventive and primary care services, especially among Veterans and Rural residents. Health centers are also addressing public health crises in local communities, such as the opioid use epidemic, natural disasters, and untreated chronic diseases – all at a cost savings to the American taxpayer.
“Health centers are one of the best investments Congress can make,” said Tom Van Coverden, President and CEO of NACHC. “They are on the front lines of almost every major public health problem facing our country and save the health care system $24 billion annually.”
Health centers are small businesses that create jobs and generate income for local communities. In 2017 alone, health centers created more than $54.6 billion in total economic activity. Thus, as the number of patients grows, so do the economies of their local communities.
Health centers depend on stable and reliable funding to sustain their services, recruit and retain the necessary workforce, and reach more communities in need. Bipartisan legislation in Congress has been introduced to extend mandatory funding for the program, which expires at the end of September. As part of #NHCW19, health center advocates are asking lawmakers to act now and pass legislation to extend health center funding for as long as possible with as much room for growth as possible.