A new report from Avalere Health, a highly-regarded health care research and economic analysis firm, finds that Community Health Centers (CHCs) reduce utilization and spending for other, costlier types of care, including emergency room and inpatient hospital care. Those studies comparing health care expenditures for patients of different provider types find that CHCs are associated with lower health care spending.
CHCs have long been praised by health care experts and policy-makers for improving health care access and lowering the overall cost of care for those they serve. Their record of success has received bipartisan praise from Members of Congress. Earlier this year, for example, the late U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) stated that “No health care system is as efficient as health centers, and no health care system is as high-quality or as patient-centered.” U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who has co-sponsored legislation with Kennedy to expand the reach of health centers, recently said that “Community health centers have made a huge impact in people’s lives.”
The Avalere report notes that studies have found that “CHC users in fact receive more disease screenings, better monitoring and treatment of chronic disease, and improved frequency and timing of well visits.” The report concludes that when seen together, the studies provide evidence that CHCs were associated with lower overall health care costs, fewer avoidable hospitalizations, and more preventive care.