There are a lot of good ideas floating around Washington, D.C., and one of the first places to look for them is the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), the only think tank in town that takes the best ideas from both political parties and uses them to promote health, security and opportunity for everyone. That is why we should pay close attention to the report issued this month from BPC that underscores the important role Community Health Centers play in the safety net. The report, “Preserving the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Other Safety-Net Programs,” makes the case for continuing funding for programs designed to improve coverage and access to care for vulnerable populations. Funding for these programs — the Children’s Health Insurance Program, mandatory funding for health centers, the National Health Service Corps, and the Maternal, Infant and Early-Childhood Home Visiting Program — are set to expire on September 30, 2017 unless congressional lawmakers take action.
The report devotes a section to health centers which describes the cost-savings health centers generate among Medicaid patients, noting, “health centers have 24 percent lower spending per Medicaid patient when compared to non-health center sites.” The broad bipartisan support that health centers have received in recent decades is also underscored in detail, especially the recent letters issued by Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate “requesting the continued recognition and support of health centers during the FY2017 Appropriations process.”
The BPC report recommends that Congress should “extend funding of health centers at the current total level of $5.1 billion annually (including both mandatory and appropriated funding) through FY2021” to maintain access to care for both insured and uninsured populations.