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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. 14


Medicaid & SCHIP; Underserved Populations; Community Health Centers


This research brief, the third in a series examining the link between national health reform proposals and community health centers, estimates the cost savings that would be realized by making important investments in non-profit health centers as an element of national health reform. Key findings include:

Increasing health center capacity by another 20 million patients by 2019 (to 39 million patients) under health reform can be expected to generate an additional $35.6 billion savings in 2019 and $212 billion in additional savings over the 2010-2019 ten-year time period.

Were the Medicaid prospective payment rate system to be applied to exchange health plans, health centers could serve an additional 2 million patients by 2019 (bringing the total of new patients served to 41 million). This investment would create overall health care savings of $39.7 billion in 2019 and $251 billion over the 2010-2019 time period.

Federal Medicaid savings would exceed $59 billion over the ten-year time period under the health reform proposal, an amount greater than the $38.8 billion in additional health center investments made over the decade under the draft House bill. If the prospective payment system were to be applied to exchange health plans, federal Medicaid savings would exceed $70 billion over ten years.

The study findings implies health insurance coverage expansions, coupled with investments in the nation's primary health care infrastructure, can spur high quality and sustainable primary health care in medically underserved rural, urban and suburban communities and help bend the curve of health care cost growth.

Open Access