Advocates for Community Health (ACH) welcomes this report, “Health Centers: Revenue, Grant Funding, and Methods for Meeting Certain Access-to-Care Requirements” from the Government Accountability Office (GAO); up-to-date data and analysis are critical as we work to ensure health centers have the resources they need to help their communities thrive.

Community health centers provide coordinated, comprehensive care to over 31 million patients in the United States, many of whom are more medically complex than the general population. They provide this care regardless of patients’ ability to pay or insurance status, all while serving at the front lines of emergencies, natural disasters, and other health crises. In addition, data shows that median health center budget margins are relatively thin, at less than 5 percent. Given this, while we are pleased that GAO’s report shows that federal and state payers increased their support for community health centers between fiscal years 2018 and 2022, the report shows a slower rate of increase in funding than the preceding five years, with a more volatile funding mix than that of other primary care providers. This is one of the reasons ACH continues to strongly advocate for a stable, sustained funding increase for community health centers through the Community Health Center Fund.

In addition, GAO states that the second largest category of funding for health centers was for preventing, mitigating, and responding to COVID-19. During the pandemic, Medicaid’s continuous coverage policy was also in place, ensuring that fewer patients churned on and off of Medicaid, and also ensuring a steadier funding stream for health centers. While we are grateful for these policies that were vital to health centers’ work in their communities, they were also temporary, and their expiration is one factor among many that have put health centers in a precarious financial position today. Other factors include growing patient populations, rampant inflation, ongoing workforce shortages, and the continued erosion of the 340B program.

Community health centers don’t shy away from these challenges. They are deeply proud of their work, including the services that kept our communities safe during COVID-19. Health centers have been true to their mission for over 50 years and will continue to care for their patients, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay, providing culturally competent comprehensive primary care services, preventive screenings, behavioral health care, and much more in the care setting patients trust.

Unfortunately, despite revenue increases in FY2018-2022, health centers today are severely under resourced due a myriad of current financial challenges; they cannot continue to do more with less. We look forward to working with Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to ensure health centers can receive the investment needed to serve the nation’s most vulnerable people and communities.


About Advocates for Community Health

Advocates for Community Health (ACH) is a membership organization for federally qualified health centers that strives to advance the delivery of health care to underserved populations and to achieve health equity for patients and communities in need. We are committed to working collaboratively to advance well-defined and forward-thinking policies at the national level. By leveraging the wisdom, agility, and innovation of our members, ACH brings bold leadership to drive change in the American healthcare system.

Next Article