Rep. Capuano Sponsors Briefing on Status of Community Health Centers

July 20, 2000 -- Today U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) sponsored a briefing on the status of our nation's Community Health Centers. The briefing examined findings by the General Accounting Office (GAO) and the Institute of Medicine. Representatives from GAO, the Institute of Medicine and the Kaiser Family Foundation gave presentations. Highlights included the extent of federal financial support necessary to maintain the health care safety net. As the number of uninsured individuals increases, it is imperative that Community Health Centers are given the resources necessary to provide access to health care in urban and rural areas.

Rep. Capuano, who founded the bipartisan, 45 member, Congressional Caucus on Community Health Centers, is working to expand congressional awareness of the role of health centers in providing care. Rep. Mike Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) also serve as co-chairs.

"Considered by many to be America's primary care safety net, the Community Health Centers network is a critical component of our nation's health care system. We must give them the attention they need to survive and to thrive," stated Rep. Mike Capuano. Community Health Centers bring health care providers, services and facilities to people living in low-income and medically underserved communities with limited resources. Last year, more than 1,000 health centers served nearly 11 million children and adults in 3,200 communities across the country.

Health centers are the only primary care providers required by federal law to see any patient regardless of ability to pay. It is estimated that health centers will lose over $400 million in Medicaid revenue over the next five years, and $500 million each year after that. This would result in a loss of care to over 1.4 million uninsured patients currently receiving care at health centers.

The purpose of the Congressional Caucus on Community Health Centers is to promote a national dialogue on their importance to the overall health care mission. Caucus members are committed to advancing federal support of the health center mission and ensuring that health centers have the resources they need to serve the uninsured.