Well, there goes what’s left of my health care! Oh, wait, I just know the Senate Democrats will stand up for this, right? RIGHT?
The proposed federal budget in the U.S. House of Representatives would cut $1.3 billion in funding for community health centers from President Obama’s budget proposal.
According to the National Association of Community Health Centers, the measure would deny health centers the ability to serve at least 3.3 million patients within the next few months and 11 million over the next year. The budget is less likely to pass the Senate, where Democrats are the majority, and then would be subject to negotiations between the chambers.
“Fiscal responsibility may be the intent of the proposed costs, but what they will accomplish is precisely the opposite,” said Tom Van Coverden, president and CEO of NACHC. “This shortsighted proposal will force millions of Americans to seek non-emergency care at already frequently overcrowded hospital ERs.
“Thousands more will have to put off primary and preventive care and management of chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease — with the end result being much higher healthcare costs to our overall system. These substantial costs will be passed on to taxpayers, employers and employees alike through increased premiums.”
According to an analysis by a collaborative at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, affected patients will include: 10 million patients with incomes less than 200% of the federal poverty level, 7.4 million racial/ethnic minority patients, 1.4 million low-income children under age 6, 2.3 million low-income patients with cardiovascular disease, 2 million low-income uninsured patients who will likely forgo care, and nearly 1 million uninsured patients whose spending on essential healthcare services will require them to spend less on food and other basic needs.
The policy research brief also notes that the affected patient population is at elevated risk for serious and chronic health conditions, which can result in higher national healthcare costs.
“Health centers provide cost-effective care for high-risk patients,” said co-author Peter Shin, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy. “Reducing health center funding impedes improvements in population health and limits the potential for significant savings in healthcare costs.”