A worthy cause can be difficult to petition for more federal funding when congressional efforts to reduce the deficit result in widespread budget cuts. Investing in primary care providers is not just an excellent way to improve the health of underserved populations nationwide. It is also an investment that will yield significant healthcare financing returns. Often, income inequality leads to a vicious cycle when it comes to public health. In the absence of primary care, people often treat health problems reactively rather than proactively, seeking emergency room treatment as needed rather than booking regular check-ups to prevent predictable problems. Although emergency room bills are costly, one-time clinic visits will not ensure a patient’s long-term health.
The healthcare financing system includes services such as medical, dental, behavioral, and pharmacy services as well as screenings, diagnosis, and treatment that contribute to personal health and well-being from childhood through old age. As a result of taking preventative measures, primary care helps communities become healthier, so they spend less on medical expenses. The primary care providers themselves, as well as patients, require adequate funding.
Medical professionals working in primary care are paid more and reimbursed by their employers, which helps them retain more talent in a profession that has a high staff turnover rate. For instance, Community Health Centers (CHCs) can use the Provider Recruitment and Retention (PR&R) Financing Program to recruit new providers or retain staff by using alternative financing structures such as “loan-forgiveness” and performance incentives. By minimizing debt accrual for a client, we ensure that every federal dollar is utilized as effectively as possible.
In addition to improving staff performance, increased funding allows healthcare professionals to seek training not only in medical basics but also in more personal aspects of care. As a result, PCDC has trained and coached more than 9,000 health workers in patient-centered care through our capacity-building programs. Furthermore, more than 5 million patients have benefited from our support of 475 primary care practices in achieving Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs).
It is beneficial for a community to have more doctors and be more accessible to primary care. Health centers serve as economic engines in some of the country’s poorest neighborhoods, providing direct and indirect economic growth. In addition to creating stable jobs, Federally Qualified Health Centers also create social, financial, and health equity, which benefits the country. More than 200,000 people are employed nationwide. Investing in primary care centers in underserved communities is a smart move, even from a strictly economic standpoint. It takes a small leap of faith, but it works. In the long run, primary care saves money, but it will take an increase in primary care costs before total care costs can decrease. Just because it takes faith doesn’t mean it is risky.