State cuts would cripple health centers for poor 

Just as we 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. Our 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 our patients have lost health insurance or cannot afford coverage.

Under federal law, health center MediCal payments take into consideration our unique delivery system that goes beyond traditional primary care. Through our 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 us to continue providing care to the uninsured and underinsured, but with 10 percent less funding. This is simply impossible given our 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.

We 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.

We provide care in a cost-effective structure. We are proud of the fact that our health centers were ranked by the Federal Office of Management and Budget as one of the 10 most effective federal programs currently in existence. We take pride in our role as a great steward of the taxpayer’s money and as an economic engine in our community.

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 our state, while reducing overall costs to the health care system. This is what we do well, and we must not let the governor’s plan interfere in our mission.

I 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.

John Gressman is the president and CEO of the San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium.

Clinics

The San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium is a partnership of several nonprofit neighborhood health centers in The City.

  • Curry Senior Center
  • Glide Health Services
  • Haight Ashbury Free Clinics Inc.
  • Lyon-Martin Health Services
  • Mission Neighborhood Health Center
  • Native American Health Center
  • North East Medical Services
  • St. Anthony Free Medical Clinic
  • San Francisco Free Clinic
  • South of Market Health Center
  • Street Outreach Services
  • Veterinary Street Outreach Services

Source: San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium

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John Gressman

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Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014

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