Idaho celebrates Community Health Center Month

National Health Center Week 2020 will be celebrated both in person and virtually this year from Aug. 9 to 15. In recognition of the value health centers bring to our local communities, Gov. Brad Little has declared August as “Health Center Month in Idaho.” Little, along with elected officials from across the country, are elevating the work community health centers have done while fighting on the front lines of COVID-19 to keep our communities healthy and safe. Their visits and messages will demonstrate that not only is it possible to move beyond the partisan divide over health care, but to support and agree on a program vital to our communities.

Health centers provide preventive and primary care services to almost 30 million people and have continued to do so while facing a global pandemic. Community health centers provide care to people who disproportionately suffer from chronic diseases and lack access to affordable, quality care. While our approach is community-based and local, collectively we are the backbone of the nation’s primary care system. Community health centers lower health care costs to the tune of $24 billion a year, reduce rates of chronic diseases and stimulate local economies.

Health West Inc, one of Southeast Idaho’s local health centers, is saving our overall health system $23 million and our state Medicaid program over $6 million annually. The reports indicated that Health West accounted for over $40.8 million in local economic output in 2019. Health West employs over 175 employees and over 60 contracted employees, and its operational needs contribute to over 130 additional jobs in our community. Just over 90 percent of the patients Health West serves are low income and qualify for a discount on services in addition to payment from their third-party insurance.

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