With so much uncertainty and confusion in today’s health care system, it is no wonder why people feel a bit overwhelmed. From issues such as the privatization of hospitals, Medicaid expansion and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Louisianans are understandably left confused by health care’s seemingly endless twists and turns.

I would like to share that Louisiana’s community health center network is addressing many of these issues in innovative ways and is directly involved in providing health care to our state’s most vulnerable populations. With over 140 sites in all corners of the state, community health centers provide affordable, quality health care for uninsured patients living in the most rural and medically underserved areas of Louisiana. In 2013 alone, our state’s community health centers served over 276,720 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. Patients get treated with utmost respect by a team of caring professionals focused on preventing costly illness and disease.

Aside from making our state healthier, Louisiana’s community health centers save the state money. In 2012, community health centers saved Louisiana taxpayers $318 million by emphasizing the importance of primary and preventative treatment while keeping people out of the emergency room. They stimulate local economies and generate jobs.

Community health centers simply make sense for Louisiana’s health and its pocketbook. I encourage you, our business leaders and our legislative representatives to visit and support local health centers so that working families continue to have access to affordable, quality care.

Jonathan Chapman

executive director of Louisiana Primary Care Association

Baton Rouge