Summit Daily Letters: Supporting community healthcare centers on National Red Alert for Health Centers Day and everyday | SummitDaily.com

Summit Daily Letters: Supporting community healthcare centers on National Red Alert for Health Centers Day and everyday

This Thursday Congress is scheduled to vote on whether or not to renew federal funding for community health centers. The Community Health Center Fund, established in 2010, has long enjoyed the bi-partisan support of Congress. The fund expired at the end of this past September and in a distressing turn of events, is now at risk and may not be renewed beyond April.

In the state of Colorado, this fund provides $63 million annually to community health centers that serve more than 500,000 patients a year.

Closer to home, the Summit Community Care Clinic also relies on federal funding to continue to serve a growing population. In 2017, providers at the Clinic saw nearly 8,000 patients in over 25,000 visits. The Clinic has expanded to provide critical medical, dental and behavioral health services in our main clinic as well as through multiple school-based sites.

I am grateful to live in a place where so many members of the community believe that no friend or neighbor of ours should have to go without healthcare because of their financial circumstances. And I am proud that so many of these community members and local organizations generously support our mission through significant financial donations.

But even with that generosity, we cannot respond to the needs of an expanding population without also relying upon federal funding. Now in these last few days before the vote on healthcare funding, I ask that all of us take the time to impart this message to our elected officials, particularly Senator Cory Gardner (via legislative aide: Alison_Toal@gardner.senate.gov) and Senator Michael Bennet (via legislative aide: Rita_Habib@bennet.senate.gov).

I think it is also worth noting that as well as providing healthcare to some of the neediest members of the community, community health centers are also developing a new model of high-quality, lower cost integrated care. In studies by the Commonwealth Fund, the total cost of care for community health center patients, which includes the cost of services outside of the health center, is nearly 20 percent lower than that of patients served in independent physician practices or outpatient clinics. Patients at community health centers have higher rates of receiving recommended preventive services, like screenings and health education, than do patients in private practices. And community health center patients with diabetes and high blood pressure have been shown to better manage their conditions than those in private practices.

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At a time when all of us are concerned about the rising cost of healthcare, this is an exciting development and one that deserves all of our support.

On Tuesday, those of us who support continued funding of community healthcare centers will be wearing red, as part of #RedAlert4CHCs, or Red Alert for Health Centers. I'll be wearing red, and I'll be having another conversation with my elected officials about supporting community healthcare centers.

For the sake of community health care and for the sake of your Summit Community Care Clinic in particular, I ask that you do the same.

Helen Q. Royal

CEO, Summit Community Care Clinic