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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. 19


Health Care Costs; Primary Care; Community Health Centers; Health Reform


The recent enactment of health reform sets into motion important changes that will expand health insurance coverage, increase funding for community health centers and alter the way that health centers are paid. These reforms will have a major impact on two major challenges of health reform: bolstering the capacity of the nation's primary care system and reducing the long term growth in health care costs.

Our analyses examine the impact of the new health reform law on the number of patients who will receive primary care services at community health centers and the effect of the service expansions on overall health care costs, including federal and state Medicaid expenditures. Research indicates that patients who receive care at community health centers have lower medical costs because providing quality primary care services can reduce the need for other ambulatory and hospital-based medical care, thereby lowering overall medical costs. We examine the effects of health center expansions based on two funding scenarios that are possible under the new law: (1) a minimum level of funding based on mandatory increases of $11 billion in additional health center grants from 2011 to 2015, and (2) higher funding levels that could be appropriated in future years, based on levels authorized under the new law.


Funder: RCHN Community Health Foundation.

Open Access