Major Growth in Use of Community Health Centers Throughout the U.S.

The number of patients using community health centers grew 33 percent between 2010 and 2016, according to researchers at the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at the George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH).

Milken Institute SPH researchers Peter Shin, Jessica Sharac, Rachel Gunsalus, and Sara Rosenbaum used data from the Uniform Data System, a nationwide annual reporting system in which all community health centers participate, for their analysis.  They found that state-by-state growth varied significantly in terms of both overall percentage growth rates and the number of patients served.

Both the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states were among those whose health centers experienced the highest patient growth, whether measured in terms of the number of patients served or percentage of patient growth. Although adoption of the ACA Medicaid expansion has been shown to be a significant factor associated with health center growth, non-Medicaid expansion states such as Texas and Florida also have experienced a major surge. The fact that this surge reached all states underscores the role played by the Affordable Care Act’s health center fund, which was most recently extended by Congress in the Balanced Budget Act of 2018.

Feygele Jacobs, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation, whose ongoing gift supports the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative, said, “These impressive growth figures not only show the importance of health centers to the medically underserved communities they serve but also underscore the essential role played by the Affordable Care Act, both for its Medicaid expansion and for its health center fund.” 

View the brief Health Center Data report and figures here