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.

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