Because there are still huge pockets of America without accessible health care services, community health centers are well positioned to ramp up and be ready to provide care to these newly covered health care recipients.
Community health centers are long recognized for their ability to effectively utilize federal grants to improve and expand patient access to medical, dental, and mental health services. What does this increased investment really buy? With additional funding for operations, community health centers will add staff to accommodate more patients, and add additional services at the centers to improve care delivery and lessen the chances of patients needing to get care will go to more expensive locations.
One study finds that increased funding from resulted in increases in the provision of on-site mental health services, hour crisis intervention, after-hours urgent medical care, and substance use counseling. But the increased funding also has enormous benefits outside the doors of the health center. To this we now turn.
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An important but less widely discussed byproduct of the increased funding to community health centers is the enormous economic activity in the broader community generated by this influx of dollars. This is especially important during times of economic insecurity. How does expanded economic activity occur? First, and most obviously, health centers directly employ people in their communities, including key entry-level jobs, training, and other community-based opportunities.
The health centers then purchase goods and services from local businesses and expand and build new locations. These new health centers and the businesses that have ramped up to serve the centers also must hire new employees. Every dollar spent and every job created by health centers has a direct impact on their local economies. Previous studies analyzed the economic activity generated in communities from having a community health center.
Case in point: Using modeling developed by the U. Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota IMPLAN Group, an economic modeling firm, researchers determined how much economic activity a particular community health center will bring to a community, with details specific to each county and industrial sector.
Using this modeling, we are able in this memo to estimate the economic impact and effect on job creation that the funding provided in the Affordable Care Act will have on communities in nationally and on a state-by-state basis. These dollars also translate into job retention and creation. We found that in , community health centers will generate over , jobs, , as a direct result of the new ACA dollars. To get the full picture of how this affects the neighborhoods served by the health centers, this economic activity can be broken down by what happens inside the health center and outside of them in the community at large.
Because of a ripple effect, health centers often serve as an engine for stimulating existing and new businesses. So besides the direct economic effects within a health center, community health centers also provide indirect economic effects through their purchases of goods and services from other local business, as well as induced economic effects, which represent the response by all local industries caused by the expenditures of new household income generated by the direct and indirect effects. The following example from Access Granted: The Primary Care Payoff illustrates the how health centers have direct, indirect, and induced economic influences on its neighborhood.
Imagine a health center that purchases waiting room chairs from a local furniture store direct effect. The furniture store in turn purchases paper from an office supplies store to print receipts and a truck from a car dealer to make deliveries indirect effect. The furniture store, the office supplies store, and the car dealership all hire staff and pay them salaries to help run the various businesses.
These employees spend their income on everyday purchases such as groceries, clothing, cars, and TVs induced effect. As this demonstrates, economic activity expands well beyond the walls of the community health center. These dollars can be broken down by direct investment in the health center and the additional indirect effects this funding creates in local communities. Similarly, there will be about , full-time-equivalent employees an economic term that basically means full-time employees directly in community health centers as both health care providers and ancillary staff.
There will also be an additional , jobs outside the health center, indirectly created as a result of the business generated by the delivery of care in the center and through additional local industries which are expanded as a result of the household income newly generated. Although actual economic activity will occur predominantly at very local levels—in areas near the health centers—the national economic impact was broken down by state in Table 2.
This table shows the total economic activity by state in generated by investments in community health centers and also estimates what proportion of this is a direct result of the additional Affordable Care Act funding. The same estimates were made for employment predictions. It should be noted that we cannot know with absolute accuracy the precise amount each state will receive in because of the process of distributing these funds.
We estimate the breakdown by state by examining the distribution of funds over the past five years and predicted similar growth patterns. Predominately rural states see substantial economic benefit driven by health centers.
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This is important because health centers located in rural areas are often among the largest employers in their communities. The dual intent of passage of the Affordable Care Act was to increase coverage for nearly all Americans while attempting to rein in health care costs. Community health centers already are key players in providing quality health care for millions of Americans. Their role in helping to care for the 32 million Americans who will be newly covered by the new comprehensive health reform law was reinforced when they were acknowledged in the new law and set to receive significant increases in funding over the next five years.
Although the extra funding was allocated to improve and expand patient care, the secondary economic effects of this investment on the communities they serve cannot be ignored. Historically, funding community health centers proved to be a smart investment in exactly the communities that need it most. Health centers time and time again demonstrate they are able to ramp up quickly and provide quality health care services for communities most in need. Perspectives in Public Health. In Roberts, S. Roberts, S. Craig ed. Applied Evolutionary Psychology.
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