Patients for whom access to health center services is at risk are disproportionately low income, minority, uninsured

Newswise — WASHINGTON and NEW YORK - A new policy research brief released today by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services examines the characteristics of patients whose access to health center services is at risk because of a potential $1.3 billion in direct spending cuts for community health centers. The cuts were approved by the United States House of Representatives on February 20, 2011, as part of legislation to trim $61 billion in discretionary spending for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.

“Health centers provide cost-effective care for high-risk patients,” said Peter Shin, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and co-author of the study. “Reducing health center funding impedes improvements in population health and limits the potential for significant savings in health care costs.”

The National Association of Community Health Centers’ (NACHC) estimates that 11 million patients are at risk of losing access to health center services as a result of these cuts. Using this estimate, national survey data from the federal Uniform Data Survey and Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, and published literature, the authors project that the at-risk population is comprised of:

· Over 10 million patients with incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level;

· 7.4 million racial/ethnic minority patients;

·1.4 million low-income children under age 6;

·2.3 million low-income patients with cardiovascular disease;

·2 million low-income uninsured patients who will likely forgo care;

· Nearly one million uninsured families who will spend less on food and other basic needs for health care services.

The brief, titled “Who Are the Health Center Patients Who Risk Losing Care Under the House of Representatives’ Proposed FY 2011 Spending Reductions?” includes estimates of the impact of spending reductions for low-income patients, and finds that in general, the affected patient population is at elevated risk for serious and chronic health conditions that can result in high health care costs.

“Health centers are critical sources of high quality care for the nation’s most vulnerable urban and rural populations,” said Julio Bellber, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation. “The reductions will severely threaten the capacity of health centers to provide care in their communities.”

To access the policy research brief:

About the Geiger Gibson / RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative

The Geiger Gibson Program in Community Health Policy, established in 2003 and named after human rights and health center pioneers Drs. H. Jack Geiger and Count Gibson, is part of the School of Public Health and Health Services at The George Washington University. It focuses on the history and contributions of health centers and the major policy issues that affect health centers, their communities, and the patients that they serve.

The RCHN Community Health Foundation, founded in October 2005, is a not-for-profit foundation whose mission is to support community health centers through strategic investment, outreach, education, and cutting-edge health policy research. The only foundation in the country dedicated to community health centers, the Foundation builds on health centers’ 40-year commitment to the provision of accessible, high quality, community-based healthcare services for underserved and medically vulnerable populations. The Foundation’s gift to the Geiger Gibson program supports health center research and scholarship.

Additional information about the Research Collaborative can be found online at or at

About The George Washington University Medical Center

The George Washington University Medical Center is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary academic health center that has consistently provided high-quality medical care in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area since 1824. The Medical Center comprises the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, the 11th oldest medical school in the country; the School of Public Health and Health Services, the only such school in the nation’s capital; GW School of Nursing; GW Hospital, and The GW Medical Faculty Associates. For more information on GWUMC, visit