Hispanics, Uninsured Represent Largest Portion Of Increase In Patients Seeking Care

Armen Hareyan's picture

The demand for services at federally approved community healthcenters has increased dramatically within the last 10 years, andHispanics are "outpacing" all other groups seeking care, according todata from the Health Resources and Services Administration, USA Today reports (Wheeler [1], USA Today, 7/18).

There are 952 federally approved community health centers, which serve more than 14 million poor and uninsured individuals, USA Today reports.The centers, which focus on preventive care, usually are located inmedically underserved areas and serve mostly minorities. Communityhealth centers are required to treat patients regardless of theirimmigration status or ability to pay.

Since 2000, Congress andthe Bush administration have almost doubled spending for communityhealth centers to about $2 billion. At the same time, the number ofcenters has increased by more than 200 and the number of patients hasincreased by 4.5 million, or 53%, according to USA Today.In addition, the number of Hispanic patients at community healthcenters has increased by 52%, to 4.8 million. The centers are treatingonly about one-third of the total number of people who need suchservices, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers, and demand for services exceeds the number of available providers.


Benefits to Minorities

Community health centers' ability to perform "effectively andefficiently" has been "overlooked" amid the reports of millions ofuninsured people and rising health costs, USA Today reports. According to USA Today,the clinics "give expectant mothers greater access to prenatal care,increase childhood vaccinations, lower infant mortality rates andimprove the prognosis of patients living with chronic conditions suchas diabetes and high blood pressure." A 2004 analysis published in the Journal of Public Health Policysaid that black women who received care at community health centerswere significantly less likely to deliver a low-birthweight infant. Thecenters also help to reduce racial health disparities, USA Today reports.

HRSAAdministrator Elizabeth Duke said, "We've been able to make healthcenters available to a lot more people in places that have never hadhealth centers. In the very best sense, (this) is what's right aboutAmerica" (Wheeler [2], USA Today, 7/18).


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