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Health Center Program: Impact and Growth

Over the last 58 years, health centers have grown to become the cornerstone of community-based primary health care in the United States. By integrating medical, dental, behavioral, and other health care services, health centers provide patients the right care, at the right time, in the right place. 

Advancing Health Equity for Millions

HRSA funds nearly 1,400 health centers and more than 100 Health Center Program look-alike (LAL) organizations. These health centers and LALs operate more than 15,000 service delivery sites in communities across the country.

In 2022, more than 30.5 million people relied on HRSA-funded health centers for care. This included: 

  • 1 in 9 children 
  • More than 24.2 million uninsured, Medicaid, and Medicare patients 
  • More than 9.6 million rural residents 
  • Nearly 1.4 million patients experiencing homelessness 
  • Nearly 1 million agricultural workers 
  • More than 952,000 patients served at school-based health center sites 
  • More than 395,000 veterans 

Of these patients, 90% were at or below 200% of the poverty line.

Addressing Emergent Public Health Needs

Our nation’s health centers have always answered the call to action in times of need. They are often the first line of care in combatting the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis. In 2022, health centers provided substance use disorder services to 299,000 patients. 194,000 patients received Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) services.

Health centers continued to meet the increasing demand for mental health care. They served 2.7 million patients seeking mental health services. Seventy percent of patients ages 12 and over received depression screening and follow-up plans as appropriate.

HRSA-funded health centers are also an essential component of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative. They serve a leading role in helping to diagnose, treat, prevent, and respond to HIV to end the epidemic. In 2022, health centers screened nearly 3.5 million patients for HIV. They also linked patients newly diagnosed with HIV to appropriate care within 30 days.  

Driving Quality Improvement

HRSA’s quality improvement investments advance a model of coordinated, comprehensive, and patient-centered care.

These investments have positioned 1,058 health centers (77%) to achieve Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recognition. The PCMH model of care enables health centers to have strong patient outcomes at lower costs despite treating a sicker and poorer population in comparison with other health care settings.

Despite significant challenges, health centers have remained committed to providing high-quality primary health care services. In fact, 96% of health centers improved 5 or more clinical quality measures (CQMs). More than half (55%) reported improvements in ten or more CQMs.

Besides better patient outcomes, the health center model of care decreases the use of costly care choices, such as visits to emergency departments and hospitals.1 Health center patients also had 24% lower spending compared to non-health center patients across all services provided.2

1 Laiteerapong, Neda et al. “Health Care Utilization and Receipt of Preventive Care for Patients Seen at Federally Funded Health Centers Compared to Other Sites of Primary Care.” Health Services Research 49.5 (2014): 1498-1518.

2 Nocon, Robert S. et al. “Health Care Use and Spending for Medicaid Enrollees in Federally Qualified Health Centers Versus Other Primary Care Settings.” American Journal of Public Health 106.11 (Nov 2016): 1981-1989.

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