Community Health Centers: Opportunities and Challenges of Health Reform (2010)


“The enactment of comprehensive health reform1 will bring about important changes to the health insurance and health care delivery systems. Community health centers will play a role in implementing many health reform provisions and in providing access to care for millions of Americans who will gain health insurance coverage under the law. To meet this new demand for services, particularly in underserved areas, the health reform law makes a significant investment in the expansion of health centers and also introduces important changes in health care delivery while strengthening efforts to improve community and population health.” (p. 1)

This policy brief discusses the opportunities and challenges community health centers face because of health reform. About 23 million people will be left uninsured, even with the Affordable Care Act, meaning community health centers will be caring for even more community residents. It’s likely that 38% of health center patients will be the uninsured. Because of healthcare reform, more money will be put into health care centers and responsibilities will expand. There will also be an expansion on how those insured with Medicaid and private insurance will be cared for. Future opportunities and challenges are also discussed in this brief.

  • “The success of the investment in health centers hinges on the ability of uninsured health center patients to obtain health coverage.” (p. 10)
  • “Health centers will continue to play a critical role in caring for the uninsured. Direct operating funding will support this care and other community services.” (p. 10)
  • “Recruiting and retaining qualified health professionals will be challenging.” (p. 11)
  • “Establishing networks and referral arrangements will be necessary to ensure health center patients have access to the full spectrum of care.” (p. 11)
  • “With their focus on public health and prevention, health centers will continue to strive to improve both the health of their patients and the health of their communities.” (p. 11)

Citation: Kaiser Family Foundation. (2010) Community health centers: Opportunities and challenges of health reform. p.1-14

Link to policy brief.

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