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Community Health Centers Tackle Rising Demands and Expectations

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Publication Date: December 2007

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Robert E. Hurley; Laurie E. Felland; Johanna Lauer

Series: Issue Brief No. 116

Topic: Health (Health services for low income people)

Type: Brief

Abstract:

As key providers of preventive and primary care for underserved people, including the uninsured, community health centers (CHCs) are the backbone of the U.S. health care safety net. Despite significant federal funding increases, community health centers are struggling to meet rising demand for care, particularly for specialty medical, dental and mental health services, according to findings from the Center for Studying Health System Change’s (HSC) 2007 site visits to 12 nationally representative metropolitan communities. Health centers are responding to these pressures by expanding capacity and adding services but confront staffing, resource and other constraints. At the same time, CHCs are facing other demands, including increased quality reporting expectations, addressing racial and ethnic disparities, developing electronic medical records, and preparing for public health emergencies.