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Health Centers Facing Uncertain Times

By: PRLog

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Aug. 28, 2023 - PRLog -- This month, as we celebrate National Health Center Week, health centers like Evara Health are facing one of the most challenging and uncertain times in the more than 50-year history of the Community Health Center Program.

As part of the Community Health Center Program, Evara Health is part of the largest network of primary care providers in the nation. This national network of federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) is more vital now than ever, particularly as the nation grapples with overlapping health, economic, and climate crises that disproportionately impact the underserved communities we care for and support.

On September 30, federal funding for the Community Health Center Trust Fund will expire, at a time when we are simultaneously facing unprecedented workforce and infrastructure challenges. Health centers are seeing more patients than ever before, and our funding is not keeping up. From Fiscal Year 2015 to Fiscal Year 2021, total community health center funding increased by 11% while the number of patients served increased by 24%.

This is why we need our leaders in Congress to act swiftly, and in a bipartisan manner, to make historic investments in community health centers. Investments that will translate locally in supporting Evara Health to sustain essential operations, infrastructure, workforce, and innovation efforts.

Historically, the Health Center Program has seen strong bipartisan support from policymakers at the federal level. We have a proven track record and have been dependable, consistent stewards of taxpayer dollars for generations. We deliver quality health care services to more than 30 million patients each year with more than 90% of those patients living at or below 200% of the federal poverty line and nearly 70% uninsured or relying on Medicaid for their coverage. Nationally, health centers employ 250,000 people annually, spur local economies, and save the health care system $24 billion each year by providing preventive services and helping people manage their health. Right here in Florida, health centers employ 14,400 with an economic impact of $3.2 billion and serve as the health care home to 1.8 million patients.

What makes Evara Health impactful and unique is that our governance model, commitment, and approach to caring for the community is grounded in being responsive to the shifting demographics and cultural identities represented in our community. We don't just serve this community; our providers, staff, and even our board members live in and are a part of the community. That same consumer majority board of directors helps to inform the true needs and challenges that exist within the community for our patients. Under their leadership, and with ongoing community engagement and input, we innovate constantly to provide programs and tailored services to our patients.

Over 40 years of service to Pinellas County families has woven Evara Health into the very fabric of the communities we serve. We take great pride in providing quality health services to multiple generations of family members, as well as employment opportunities.

For example, a woman receiving adult care enrolls her daughter for pediatric care and later we are entrusted with her maternal care, from prenatal through delivery, and then her granddaughter's pediatric care.

Sometimes, these family members decide to join our family, through the employment opportunities we provide, and continue to grow and contribute to the community alongside us. Evara Health is inseparable from those we serve…one patient, one family, one community at a time.

At Evara Health we stretch limited resources to ensure our patients have access to services that keep them and their families healthy and thriving. We are proud of the legacy we've built as a hyper-local health equity hub, but we also know there is much more to be done.

Today, the unfortunate reality is that Evara Health and health centers across our country are operating within a cycle of uncertain funding. This uncertainty wreaks havoc on operations, recruitment and retention, and overall solvency. Additionally, our workforce—comprised of members of the very communities we serve—has been on the frontlines throughout more than two years of historic challenges to our health care system.

We need our leaders in Congress to stand up for us and provide the resources FQHCs desperately need, today and for years to come. We hope that Senator Rick Scott, Senator Marco Rubio, and Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, Rep. Kathy Castor, Rep. Laurel Lee, and Rep. Vern Buchanan will show their support for Evara Health and the Health Center Program as a whole by taking bold, visionary action now so we can continue our lifesaving work in Pinellas County, Florida and nationwide.

Byron Tucker

Source: Evara Health

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