Dear Bellevue Business Journal,

There is much confusion about how the world of health care is changing around us. But this is what is important to know: With the Affordable Health Care Act, more people will have better options for primary care services. The health care reform law expands health insurance coverage to 32 million people and invests in the significant expansion of Community Health Centers (CHC). Currently, CHCs make up the largest national network of primary care providers. It is anticipated with these increased coverage opportunities that by 2015, health centers will double their current capacity to 40 million patients. Yet, with the allocated funding the Health Care Act provides to the health centers, it still reduces the deficit.The cost of care at a health center is affordable, and studies prove the quality of care is as good as anyone will find in private practice. CHCs pride themselves on treating their patients with dignity and respect by a team of caring professionals focused on preventing costly illness and disease before they happen. This results in fewer hospital emergency room visits, and consumers, taxpayers and governments save money.

Even with the Obamacare expansion, a large population in King County, for myriad reasons, will remain uninsured. At Seattle’s Country Doctor Community Health Centers, where I serve as board chair, the majority of our patients are without health insurance, and 88% live on less than $23,000 annually. Yet we, and all of our sister CHCs, continue to provide care regardless of one’s ability to pay. As a result, all health centers depend on state and federal financial support to keep their doors open.

Please continue to support your local CHC. Better yet, visit one during the upcoming National Health Center Week (August 11-17) and see for yourself why they are a good prescription for what ails our nation’s health care systems.

Patrick Ferguson
Board Chair
Country Doctor Community Health Centers

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