We plan to continue blog postings about the 50th Anniversary for June focusing on the theme of “How Far We Have Come.” We will be looking at health centers that have made a long journey from humble beginnings, such as church basements, neighborhood storefronts or small trailers, into now dynamic health delivery systems showcasing what is possible in community health. Telling those stories, we will recognize the vitality, commitment and perseverance of people in the Community Health Center Movement. We will also show how health centers have moved public debate to change attitudes about primary care, prevention and the value of an accessible, quality community health system.
Tomorrow, precisely at 11:45 EST, the President will make a speech about healthcare and “offer a history” of where we have been, according to a widely distributed White House email. The White House also released a healthcare timeline of key events. While there is no specific mention of Community Health Centers in the timeline, we were struck by a speech on the timeline given by President Lyndon Johnson on January 7, 1965 in an address to Congress. He said, “We can and we must strive now to assure the availability of and accessibility to the best healthcare for all Americans, regardless of age or geography or economic status.” Certainly those words echo in the mission of health centers today, which serve anyone regardless of their insurance status and ability to pay.
We also note that the White House issued a report earlier this month focusing on the 22 states that have not expanded Medicaid and the impact on residents. Among the most hard-hitting conclusions from the report is that 5,200 fewer people would die each year if these states had chosen to expand Medicaid. Also 193,000 fewer people would face catastrophic out-of-pocket medical costs in a typical year, and one million people would have a usual source of care.
These numbers are important for a many good reasons, not the least of which is that health centers and Medicaid have a longstanding history of saving lives and providing access to care. While Medicaid patients are only about 16 percent of the population, they represent 40 percent of health center patients. Health center Medicaid patients have fewer hospitalizations and visits to the ER. To learn more about health centers and Medicaid please visit this link.