$600 Million in Cuts for Community Healthcare Centers Will Affect Rural Areas Most

John Cummins, of Health Leaders Media, reports that rural areas across the United States will be hit hardest by the Federal Government’s decision to cut $600 million in funding from Community Health Centers (CHCs).  A little less than half (48%) of those who make use of CHCs come from areas of the country where many of the medical facilities that provide primary and preventive care, commonplace in more populated cities, are sparsely found. One of the results of the reduced budget is the over capacitating of hospitals and emergency rooms where individuals may now be forced to turn for routine exams and procedures normally performed at a CHC. This could have drastic effects on the care for patients requiring urgent medical attention, regardless of whether or not they had previously used a CHC.

According to Cummins via article in Health Leaders Media Community and Rural Hospitals Weekly :

“This seems remarkably short-sighted when almost everyone, regardless of their political leanings, understands that access to primary care, preventive medicine, and disease management are cost-effective alternatives to acute episodes that require hospitalization.”

This sentiment is echoed precisely in a recent post here from a rural health clinic administrator.

Proponents of the budget cut cite the US Government’s need to begin “living within its means.”  According to an article by Julian Pecquet via www.TheHill.com :

“As the president explained, some of the cuts will be painful — including the cuts in community health centers and NIH that we support and would not have made in better circumstances,” Health and Human Services spokesman Chris Stenrud told The Hill. “But beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect the investments that will help America to compete for new jobs — investments in our kids’ education and student loans; in clean energy and life-saving medical research.””

The Yakima Daily Herald put the budget cuts in perspective when, in November 2011, it reported hundreds of beneficiaries from Yakima Valley’s three Community Healthcare Centers crowded local hospital emergency rooms in an effort to illustrate what could come as a result.