Many U.S. Counties Lack Community Health Centers, Report Finds
The number of U.S. counties that require community health centers exceeds available resources, and counties that have health centers have experienced increased demand for services, according to a report released this week by the National Association of Community Health Centers and George Washington University, CQ HealthBeat reports.
According to the report, 929 low-income U.S. counties, or about one-third of counties nationwide, do not have community health centers. In addition, the report found that more than two in five of the 20 million residents of those counties are low income and that more than three million lack health insurance.
In Oklahoma, 70% of counties are low income and lack community health centers, compared with more than half of counties in Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana and Texas, according to the report. The report found that Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma have the highest proportion of residents -- one-third -- who reside in low-income counties without community health centers, compared with at least 20% in Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana and South Dakota.
According to CQ HealthBeat, the report represents a "major challenge for President Bush," who has said he plans to increase the number of community health centers nationwide.
Dan Hawkins -- vice president for federal, state and public affairs at NACHC -- said in a statement, "More health care options, especially more health centers, can deal a sizable blow to the cycle of poverty and poor health in these communities. But for the president's plan to work, the new funding he has requested will have to be supplemented by other sources of support, especially state financial support and Medicaid, which make up a significant portion of revenue for many current health centers" (CQ HealthBeat, 3/14).
The report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.