Rep. Karen Bennett Highlights How ACA Investments in Community Health Centers Are Helping Patients in Georgia
State centers have already received over $100 million in support
Atlanta, GA – Today, Rep. Karen Bennett highlighted how investments in community health centers in Georgia provided under the Affordable Care Act are helping deliver higher-quality health care to 321,000 local patients. Today, approximately 1,200 health centers operate more than 9,000 service delivery sites that provide care to over 21 million patients in across the country.
Rep. Bennett hosted a roundtable discussion at Oakhurst Medical Center in Stone Mountain to discuss the role of community health centers and the impact the ACA. Rep. Bennett has collaborated with Oakhurst CEO Jeffrey Taylor since September, holding a series of informational and ACA enrollment town hall meetings in her district.
“It is a natural partnership with the community health centers,” said Bennett. “It is so beneficial for people to be able to come somewhere like Oakhurst to get help with enrollment. The navigators provide person to person contact, and patients have someone who they feel is available and held accountable.”
Taylor says his center treats between 400 and 500 patients per week, providing family, pediatric, Ob/Gyn and mental health services. 45 to 50 percent of those patients have no health insurance. “We were the affordable care place before the Affordable Care Act. Now, we want the word out that this is not only a place to get emergency health care. You can get help with preventative care and you can get help with ACA enrollment.”
To help expand the capacity of health centers to serve our communities, the Affordable Care Act includes approximately $11 billion for efforts strengthen and grow our Community Health Centers, including building new sites and renovating existing health centers. Already, community health centers in Georgia have received $102,945,000 in Affordable Care Act funding for these purposes.
Taylor says centers like Oakhurst are an affordable alternative for those who would normally use emergency rooms for primary care needs. “At a community health center, we have a sliding fee scale. If a patient comes in here and they don’t have the financial means, it’s possible that they can be seen for $30. This is saving not millions, but billions of dollars in the health care system.”
Health centers are an integral source of local employment and economic growth in many communities. Health centers employ more than 148,000 workers nationwide and created more than 35,000 additional jobs over the last four years.
“Another thing the Affordable Care Act helps with is the National Health Services Corps, a loan repayment program for doctors who serve in a community health center setting,” Taylor added. “A portion of their education loans can be paid off here. The ACA has expanded that program and helped us with recruiting good physicians at the center.”
Rep. Bennett also highlighted the center’s work in preventative care by providing a Path to Wellness program, educating patients on healthy diets and the importance of exercise. “It is no longer a mystery that prevention saves money,” said Bennett.
Increasing access to quality health care services for patients in communities across the state should be a top priority for lawmakers in Georgia. Yet instead of working to fix the law, Georgia’s Republican Congressional delegation has voted to repeal the health care law more than 40 times, even shutting down the government to prevent greater access to the primary care, outreach and enrollment services provided by these Community Health Centers.
“The tenacity of the fight the Republican Party has waged against the Affordable Care Act amazes me,” said Bennett. “I don’t know why they want to sabotage the whole program.”
“Because of the ACA, finally, there is hope. This is why I want to get people involved. It’s about saving lives and having healthier lives.”