Cutbacks to Medicaid as well as growth in the number of uninsured and in healthcare costs pose significant challenges to the country's community health centers, according to a new study from the National Association of Community Health Centers.
Nationwide, there are more than 1,000 such centers providing care to 15 million patients, according to the association. From 2001 to 2003, operating margins at community health centers dropped from 1.3% to 0.5% before improving to 0.9% last year, according to the study. Cuts by many states in their Medicaid programs have resulted in a drop in the number of Medicaid beneficiaries served in community health centers. But the number of uninsured patients treated at such facilities grew to 40.1% from 38.9% between 2001 and 2004, authors of the study said.
In 2004, community health centers provided $1.6 billion in uncompensated care, double the figure in 1999.
Meanwhile, healthcare costs per patient for community centers grew by 34.7% between 1999 and 2004, though that still trailed the growth rate for all providers, 40.4%. Read the report.