As the COVID-19 pandemic surges on across the United States, a new analysis reports on the experience of the nation’s community health centers over a six-month period. Utilizing data from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) weekly Health Center COVID-19 Survey for the period April 2 to October 3, 2020, the authors document that health centers immediately rose to meet the challenges of the public health crisis, by initiating coronavirus testing, conducting more than four million diagnostic tests, and adapting care such as telehealth to address patient needs.Measures of operational capacity including temporary site closures, staff unable to work, and declines in weekly visits have improved over the six months, but remain substantial and vary considerably by state. However with visits down overall, continuing site closures, reduced staffing and limited financial relief, the pandemic has taken an enormous financial toll. Cumulative health center patient revenue losses over six months are estimated at $3.364 billion, or nearly 11 percent of total revenue reported nationally in 2019. Without long-term stable federal investment to restore and sustain operations, entire communities could lose access to high quality, affordable health care, with grave consequences, especially for Latino, Black, and other minority and low-income communities, those known to be the most adversely affected by COVID-19 and other public health crises.
The report is part of the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative’s signature policy brief series.
Download the report.