New Report: Sequester Impact Will Be Severe for Community Health Centers and Families
A new issue brief breaks down the impact of the budget sequester on Community Health Centers and the patients they serve. About 900,000 patients could lose access to care at a health center due to the cutbacks from the budget sequester. The report, "Assessing the Potential Impact of Sequestration on Community Health Centers, Patients and Medically Underserved Communities," issued by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative, said that 1200 Community Health Centers and their satellite locations will lose about $120 million as a consequence of the automatic budget cuts.
The report also notes that there will be 3 million fewer patient visits than expected this year, even as health centers had been expected to grow their numbers to meet the expected demand for primary care under the Affordable Care Act. Patients and communities, however, will be the hardest hit. The report projects people who will lose access to care will be:
- Families with incomes below 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (72 percent)
- Children under the age of 18 (32 percent) and under the age of six years (13 percent).
- Women of childbearing age, 15 to 44 years (28 percent)
- People who suffer from two or more chronic conditions that require medical management (52 percent)
The report concludes that “sequestration can be expected to affect all communities served by health centers” and particularly hard hit will be health centers that serve heavily uninsured populations, such as farmworkers and the homeless. “Because the $120 million loss will be concentrated in the second half of FY 2013 rather than absorbed throughout the year, especially steep programmatic reductions may be required to absorb the loss.” Among the health center operations that could be affected are hours of operation, patient accessibility to services, and loss of revenues due to reduced clinical care capacity (fewer staff).
Physician Gary Wiltz, MD, who runs a Community Health Center in rural Louisiana, is among the members of the public health community who have been speaking out about the impact of the sequester. You can read more of his remarks by visiting this link.
To find out how health center patients will be also be affected, check out the stories below.