Dr. Jin Kwon, a family physician at Asian Health Services in Oakland, California, recently wrote an op-ed about the real toll that funding cuts for Federally Qualified Health Centers (or FQHCs) would have on her community. She opened with the compelling story of an uninsured small business owner who was shot multiple times, and miraculously survived after being hospitalized. Without the quality follow-up medical care at this Community Health Center, this is a patient who could potentially cost taxpayers untold sums of money. Fortunately, this patient is actually doing quite well now, due in large part to the staff of Asian Health Services.
This story is just one example of what health centers do nation-wide. Not only do Community Health Centers produce $24 billion in annual health system savings, but Dr. Kwon highlighted the extra value that they offer to their patients:
Health centers such as Asian Health Services are also leaders in providing culturally competent care in patients’ native language as their employees — from doctors and nurses to allied health workers, such as medical assistants and health coaches — tend to reflect the population they serve.
She also illustrated why further proposed cuts for Community Health Centers will cause far greater long-term harm to the patients in the communities that they serve:
I understand that elected officials must make tough spending choices, but cuts to health centers are like applying local anesthetic to a wound but not treating it. It may feel good for a while, but then the pain roars back even greater — and spreads.