Just as President Obama’s Healthcare Reform bills are poised to deliver on the promise of providing health care for millions of Californians, Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget would cut funding to neighborhood-based, community-governed health centers. These centers are the only cost-effective alternative to costly, overcrowded emergency rooms.
Federally qualified health centers have a long history of providing quality care to MediCal, Medicare and uninsured patients. Most private providers cannot serve these patients because California has the lowest MediCal rates in the country.
Across California, clinics provide care in the poorest communities that have staggering unemployment rates. Many of these patients have lost health insurance or cannot afford coverage.
Under federal law, health center MediCal payments take into consideration their unique delivery system that goes beyond traditional primary care. Through these centers, patients receive prevention services, health screenings, comprehensive primary care, chronic disease management, behavioral health services, care management and on-site translation services.
The governor’s budget would require community health centers to continue providing care to the uninsured and underinsured, but with 10 percent less funding. This is simply impossible given their mission to serve all who come through our doors. The proposed budget cut would shred the city and state’s safety net. To date, California health centers have lost more than $100 million in the past three years due to harmful budget cuts.
They cannot survive further cuts.
This proposal would force some health centers to close and most to reduce services and access to care. This proposal is simply the wrong prescription for the health of California.
Community Health Centers provide care in a cost-effective structure. They are proud of the fact that they were ranked by the Federal Office of Management and Budget as one of the 10 most effective federal programs currently in existence. And they take pride in their role as a great steward of the taxpayer’s money and as an economic engine in their communities.
The governor’s budget proposal is NOT reform; it is simply a budget cut. Countless studies have concluded that health centers provide high-quality and cost-effective health care to the most vulnerable populations in the state, while reducing overall costs to the health care system. This is what they do well, and they must not let the governor’s plan interfere in their mission.
We urge you to call the governor and tell him that our health care system is fragile enough without this additional devastating cut.
Tell him to let our health centers do the important work they do in keeping our families and communities healthy.