Once a speck on a vast healthcare landscape, community health centers have become critical to the operation of the United States’ healthcare system in socioeconomically disadvantaged urban and rural areas. In 2018, health centers treated over 28 million people, representing a 31% growth in only five years.
This growth is the blend of different massive investments that, when combined, enabled health centers to ramp up care: Expansion of Medicaid, which resulted in dramatically improved patient coverage, and the Community Health Center Fund, which provided specific expenditure on health center growth in terms of recipients, locations, and sick people served.
Furthermore, community health centers would profit significantly from the federal Office of Management and Budget assistance requested by the National Association of Medicaid Directors, specifically the authority to issue retainer payments. This strategy would benefit community hospitals and other crucial community-based care safety net organizations such as women’s clinics and remote medical centers. During this extraordinary situation, these critical providers must keep their gates unlocked and remain fully functioning.
Community health centers have emerged as a health care foundation for state Medicaid systems, even as they continue to support more than one in every five uninsured individuals. Nearly one in every five Medicaid patients receives treatment in a community clinic in the United States; in ten states and the District of Columbia, the number is one in every four.
However, health centers, like hospitals and other providers, are trying to stay alive due to the financial implications of discontinuing treatment for any illness other than COVID-19. Specifically, Congress has recognized the importance of healthcare centers in society during the COVID-19 pandemic, allocating $1.32 billion for coronavirus response underneath the CARES Act and the $100 million already allocated under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. The CARES Act also extended until the end of November the Community Health Centers Fund, which was scheduled to lapse in mid-May.
Simultaneously, community health centers face the same problems as other healthcare professionals: the absence of people in need of practically all different types of health care, including premium dental services from trusted dentists. Entire categories of the critical array of integrated medical services provided by health centers have been closed. For example, unity Health Care, one of the nation’s most significant health facilities, has been compelled to close its eye.
With the reduction of services comes the loss of funds required to keep employees employed and the gates of over 12,000 locations open. This is especially problematic in towns and areas where health centers must provide essential treatments while increasing first response capability.
Cares Act Steps Up to Health Community Health Centers
Other parts of the CARES Act may help health care facilities in addition to the $1.32 billion Covid-19 funds, which amounts to less than $50 per patient worldwide. However, considering the scale of the catastrophe, most of these alternative sources of help have severe limitations or are just financially impossible.
Community health centers are not-for-profit organizations. Consequently, CARES Act provisions that apply to companies, including charities, may be necessary for assisting health centers in maintaining care in their communities. The Act’s program for small businesses with less than 500 workers (including part-time and full-time), including most community health centers, allows them to loan up to $10 million to pay wages, rent, and administrative expenditures.
However, most health facilities have become too big to be assisted, and they are situated in one of the most hard-hit areas. We found 93 community health center grantees countrywide that employ more than 500 people and are likely disqualified for the initiative. These biggest health facilities use 31% of all health center employees and serve 28% of all consumers nationally. These extensive facilities serve more than 50% of the health center patient group in Colorado, New York, Washington State, and Columbia.
The Need for More Supportive Legislation
The CARES Act offers significant financial assistance to health centers but fails to adequately assist the critical role these facilities play in combating the COVID-19 epidemic. Health centers provide essential access for approximately 29 million Americans living in socioeconomically disadvantaged urban and rural communities—the most vulnerable regions in this crisis.
Talks are ongoing to include more health centers give money in the fourth piece of COVID-19 legislation that is in the works. A fresh round of funding is critical but essential as the states do to maintain Medicaid’s unrivaled position in health center funding.
Health Centers are on the front lines of severe disease. They assist the uninsured, the impoverished, and those with chronic health problems. Increasing financial protection qualification, boosting funding levels, and expediting health center payments are necessary to guarantee that health centers and other essential providers endure and recuperate from the epidemic.