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Medicaid & SCHIP; Electronic Health Record; Community Health Centers; Health Homes


This Policy Brief examines the role of health centers in the U.S. health care system, assessing their current and future roles in an era of both great promise and challenge. On one hand, government is poised perhaps more sharply than any time in nearly a generation to undertake a comprehensive effort at national health reform, addressing not only coverage but also access, quality, prevention, and the reinvigoration of primary health care, particularly for populations who face the highest health risks. On the other hand, the nation is facing the most severe economic recession in years, with lower income families and medically underserved communities particularly vulnerable to further loss of economic security including jobs and health care. Because of their special attributes, health centers represent a key component of the health care puzzle, not only for the patients and communities they serve, but also for the large number of people and communities who remain without a regular source of primary health care because of financial, social, cultural, and geographic barriers.

Following a background and overview of health centers, this policy brief reviews 2008 legislation reauthorizing the health centers program and examines the factors that will determine the extent to which this resilient and respected program is able to achieve its promise. This analysis uses data derived from the Uniform Data System (UDS),1 as well as other data and research on health centers.


Issue paper prepared for the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Reproduced with permission of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. This publication (#7876) is also available on the Kaiser Family Foundation's website.

Creative Commons License

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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