Monday, August 6, 2012

National Health Center Week: Reaching Wisconsin’s Medically Underserved

From Superior to Beloit, community health centers provide needed preventive, dental and other health services to low-income, uninsured and minority children and families in medically underserved areas of Wisconsin. In 2010, 16 Community Health Centers in Wisconsin reported serving over 265,000 patients – 25% of which were for pediatric services for kids under 12 years of age. This week, August 5th through the 11th, we celebrate National Health Center Week.


The theme for this year’s National Health Center Week is “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: Powering Healthier Communities.” The theme is meant to highlight the patient-centered, primary care focused approach our community health centers in Wisconsin and across the nation have embraced. This approach is increasingly gaining the support of communities and policymakers, notably for saving money – for example by avoiding costly emergency room visits – while increasing the amount of accessible, quality care our communities receive.

Recognizing their importance for families across the state, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) invests in community health centers in Wisconsin. So far, the 96 Community Health Centers in Wisconsin have received a total of $33.7 million in grants to enhance their ability to serve Wisconsin kids and families.

In these tough economic times, where access to insurance through an employer is harder to come by, the last thing Wisconsin families need is to try to navigate a difficult health care system that is unaffordable and inaccessible when their son or daughter has an ear infection or is due for a check-up. Thanks to the ACA, more Wisconsin families are currently getting needed care through an increasingly robust set of community health centers – an improvement in access to care we will see even more of with full implementation of the ACA, including health care Exchanges in 2014.

Lacy Langbecker

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