Liz Spiliotes: Community health centers are health care success story – Berkshire Eagle (subscription)

Health centers bring a unique and important perspective to the national conversation on health care. We are proud that we can work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to strengthen and improve the availability of quality primary care and preventive services to everyone who needs it. Good health begins with an investment in primary care; indeed, advanced nations with generous health care treat health care funding as an investment in health, well-being and illness prevention, rather than a black hole of costs for sick people. Access to, and funding for, community health centers is a prescription for the good health of our nation — and for our neighbors here in the Berkshires.

There is little doubt that these health centers contribute to cost savings for the American taxpayer. In fact, health centers like ours save, on average, $2,371 (or 24 percent) in total spending per Medicaid patient when compared to other providers, according to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Throughout the decades, and through bipartisan administrations, Congress has consistently seen the value in growing the federal investment in the health center system of care. But right now, a crisis looms with the scheduled expiration, at the end of September, of a critical fund that supports the budgets of every health center in the U.S. Congress must act swiftly to extend this funding. Why? Because at time when efforts to reform the health care system are moving forward, with potential risks to our most vulnerable citizens, this is no time to turn our backs on health centers who care for each and every patient. Public investment is critical — now more than ever.

In the Berkshires, Community Health Programs continues to serve uninsured and low-income patients, but as word gets out about our quality of care — and as private medical practices move under our administrative umbrella #8211; our client and payer mix is diversifying dramatically. Nearly 25 percent of our patients are covered by private commercial insurance; 33 percent are covered by Medicare, 36 percent Mass Health recipients. Six percent are self-pay, with a small percentage covered by veterans#8217; benefits.

Care innovators

Key funding deadline

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