If you gave someone a dollar and they gave you back $1.78, wouldn’t you consider that a great deal? That’s the deal Florida’s Community Health Centers provide for the state’s citizens – and it is indeed pretty fantastic.
For more than 50 years, Florida’s Community Health Centers have been meeting our state’s health care needs by providing community-focused, team-based comprehensive primary care to those who need it the most. Community Health Centers are the lifeline for medically underserved communities, consistently providing the most efficient and cost-effective health care in the state and nation.
A new study documents just how valuable Florida’s Community Health Centers are – delivering a record-breaking $2 billion economic impact for Florida in 2017 while boosting our state’s physical and fiscal well-being.
In the Big Bend area, Community Health Centers (Bond Community Health Center, Neighborhood Medical Center, North Florida Medical Centers) delivered more than $36.1 million in economic impact — creating 354 jobs in the process in Leon, Gadsden, Wakulla, Taylor, Madison and Jefferson counties. This is an exceptional economic benefit for the area and one we hope to see grow year after year.
As president and CEO of the Florida Association of Community Health Centers, I have witnessed the vital role Community Health Centers play in safeguarding our state’s quality of life. We continue to serve Florida’s most vulnerable residents, providing services regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Of the 1.4 million Floridians we treated last year, 92.3 percent of them had incomes below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Community Health Centers generate an economic impact of $2 billion, accounting for more than 11,100 direct jobs in local communities and an additional 6,600 indirect jobs.
Community Health Centers merit funding from federal, state and local government and from private funders. As a testament to the great value of the services they provide, they have consistently raised the local matching dollars needed to draw down their share of the available Low Income Pool funding the federal government generally commits on an annual basis.
By diverting patients from more costly emergency rooms and boosting preventive care, Community Health Centers save Florida taxpayers money and help reduce costs for Florida’s health system as a whole, with benefits to Florida’s employers and private payers. Between generating significant savings and creating jobs in local communities around the state, Florida benefits from the return on every dollar invested in Florida’s Community Health Centers.
It’s not often entities with such an important humanitarian mission – keeping low-income Floridians healthy – also manage to deliver a strong economic benefit. That’s an equation worth celebrating and preserving.
Andrew Behrman is president and CEO of the Florida Association of Community Health Centers.