Release: Investment in Health Centers Will Save Billions

WASHINGTON, June 30 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today joined George Washington University researchers in releasing a report that projects billions of dollars in savings from a major new investment in community health centers.

Sanders and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) were the chief backers of a provision in the health care law to double the number of Federally Qualified Health Centers, which provide affordable primary care, dental care, mental-health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs.

The analysis by the George Washington University School of Public Health found the $11 billion in additional federal grants for community health centers will:

  • Reduce total national medical costs by more than $180 billion over the next 10 years, including savings of more than $50 billion in federal Medicaid spending and more than $30 billion in reduced state Medicaid expenditures.
  • Increase the number of patients receiving primary care at health centers by at least 18 million by the end of the decade, effectively doubling the number of people served.

“As important as health centers are for providing access to primary care for everyone, they also dramatically reduce costs by treating patients before they become so sick that they wind up in emergency rooms or hospitals,” Sanders said.

“Expanding community health centers is a win, win, win,” he added. “It will provide a medical home for almost 20 million more Americans, cut down on emergency rooms visits and save taxpayers billions of dollars.”

Professor Leighton Ku, the lead author of the report, said the new law both expands health insurance coverage and strengthens the role of community health centers. “These changes create an economic engine to extend the primary health care home model to many more rural, urban and suburban communities across the nation.”
 
“This study shows the tremendous quality and efficiency gains that can flow from a strong and long-term investment in primary health care,” said Sara Rosenbaum, who chairs the Department of Health Policy at GW.

Nationwide, about 7,500 new health center sites will be opened or expanded.

In Vermont, Sanders hopes two new centers will be added to the eight centers with 40 satellite offices which now serve 108,000 patients, more per capita than in any other state in the country.

To read the full report from the Geiger Gibson/ RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, click here.