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George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services, Department of Health Policy


Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative Policy Research Brief No. 33


In this brief, we estimate the number of uninsured community health center (CHC) patients who would gain coverage under the Affordable Care Act using data from the 2009 HRSA Survey of CHC patients and 2011 Uniform Data System. We find that were all states to implement the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion, an estimated 5 million uninsured health center patients – or two-thirds of all uninsured patients served by CHCs nationally – would be eligible for coverage. However, over one million uninsured patients – 72% of whom live in southern states – who would have been eligible for coverage will remain uninsured because of states' decisions to opt out of the expansion. The spillover effects of the decision to opt out of the Medicaid expansion are likely to be significant. Health centers in opt-out states can be expected to struggle, falling further behind their expansion state counterparts in terms of service capacity, number of patients served (both insured and uninsured), and in their ability to invest in initiatives that improve the quality and efficiency of health care.

Open Access