Document Type


Publication Date



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. 4


Medicaid & SCHIP; Community Health Centers; Health Homes


This issue of Research Briefs examines health centers' role in reducing disparities in preventive health care access by medically vulnerable and high risk populations. The analysis uses information from several national data sources to examine differences in the provision of preventive health care to Medicaid and uninsured patients between health centers and other primary care providers.

Key Findings:

  • Compared to those treated by other primary care providers, Medicaid and uninsured patients treated by health centers are significantly poorer, in significantly worse health, and in the case of uninsured patients, more likely to be members of racial and ethnic minority groups.
  • Despite the higher risk nature of their patients, health centers achieve significantly higher levels of preventive health care for these patient populations in such key areas as screening for diabetes and hypertension, and preventive health screenings for breast and cervical cancer. Differences of as much as 22% between the receipt of preventive care in CHC and non-CHC settings are observed.

These findings illustrate the valuable role played by health centers in caring for Medicaid and uninsured patients, as well as the fact that even when patients are insured, income, race/ethnicity, and health status remain significant determinants of health care access, thereby necessitating a direct focus on access improvements as part of any health reform plan.

Open Access