From the CEO's Desk
Kathy Wood-Dobbins, CEO
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Section: Spotlight Articles, March 2018

Kathy Wood-Dobbins, CEOCommunity Health Centers are an important foundation of the U.S. health care system. Every state depends on these organizations to make primary health care accessible to their neediest citizens. Across the country, health centers serve 27 million patients each year. In fact, Community Health Centers form the country’s largest primary care safety net for uninsured, Medicaid, and CHIP-insured patients, as well as other vulnerable, low-income individuals. 

The nationwide system of Community Health Centers is supported by two important pillars – federal grant funding and Medicaid. The federal grant funds help make it possible for health centers to serve uninsured patients and deliver comprehensive care. Health centers do not provide medical care alone. Their services include integrated behavioral health care, dental services, labs, access to affordable medications, care coordination, and other supports to address the social factors that affect patients’ health. The advocacy of many has helped to secure these vital federal grants. Last month, Congress took action to fund Community Health Centers and to fix the health center funding cliff. CHCs have enjoyed bipartisan support due to both their quality and cost effectiveness, saving the system $24 billion each year by keeping high-risk patients healthier and out of more expensive emergency and hospital care. 

The second pillar that supports Community Health Centers is Medicaid. It is the largest source of coverage for health center patients. The importance of Medicaid for CHCs cannot be overstated. Tennessee’s TennCare program is a key partner for the state’s health centers, and we work together to meet the health care needs of TennCare patients. Tennessee health centers have been important partners in the Tennessee State Innovation Model (SIM) program, participating with TennCare as the state moves away from paying for volume to paying for value. As of January 1, 2018, Community Health Centers represent one in four primary care practices participating in TennCare’s comprehensive care delivery model. Health centers are at work accelerating practice innovations that enhance the health of vulnerable patients while driving cost savings and improved health outcomes. 

Today’s environment brings both challenges and opportunities for health centers and patients. Health centers are hard at work supporting patient access to care, coverage, and health center financial stability. Community Health Centers always take the long view, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to their communities by assuring accessible and high-quality primary health care services. Health centers must tell their stories and elevate the voices of our patients to our state and federal policymakers.

Thank each of you for your advocacy. Let’s keep up the good work!

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