Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more Louisianans than ever before have access to health insurance coverage. Unfortunately, many of our citizens living in rural and medically underserved areas continue to struggle to find a place to go for regular preventative care. A key part of the solution lies in Louisiana’s Community Health Centers.

With over 160 sites in all corners of the state, Community Health Centers provide affordable, quality health care for uninsured and low-income patients. In 2014 alone, health centers served over 300,000 patients, accounting for nearly 1 million patient visits. These facilities offer primary care, behavioral health and oral health services, which studies have shown meet the highest standard of patient care.

While providing important health services, health centers also save taxpayer money. By emphasizing the importance of preventative treatment and keeping patients out of the emergency room, health centers save our state $349 million, spur local economies, and generate jobs.

Sustained federal investment is critical to our success and survival. Earlier this year, health centers barely averted a massive funding cut. Were it not for the leadership of Louisiana’s congressional delegation, thousands of families across our state would have lost access to these vital health care services. As we celebrate National Health Center Week (Aug. 9-15), we offer our sincerest gratitude to our state’s federal legislators. Their support ensures a healthy, sustainable Community Health Center system that can continue serving Louisiana far into the future.

Jonathan Chapman

executive director, Louisiana Primary Care Association

Baton Rouge