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. 22


Access to Health Care; Low-Income Populations; Uninsured; Community Health Centers; Health Homes; Employer Sponsored Health Insurance


The severe economic downturn over the past few years has demonstrated the heightened importance of strengthening the health care safety net, particularly for working Americans who may have lost their health insurance coverage or do not have access to employer-sponsored benefits. Both historically and most recently during the current recession, health centers have played a critical role in providing services to the working poor, assuring that they continue to receive timely preventive care that obviates the need for, and minimizes use of, more costly services. We estimate that 1 in 4 low income, uninsured working adults depend on health centers for primary care.

Our findings underscore the need to strengthen and expand health center capacity and to improve access to care for the working uninsured. Federal budget cuts to health center funding would likely result in significant loss of service capacity for many low income workers, even as states and localities continue to struggle with the deep economic aftereffects of the recession.

Open Access