Last Wednesday officials from the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) participated in a forum on state community health centers (CHC) in the Flag Room at the Statehouse.
EBNHC CEO Manny Lopes was one of the speakers during the forum and argued in his remarks that community health centers like EBNHC are â€˜part of the solution, not a cost driverâ€™.
â€œCommunity Health Centers produce significant return on investments by lowering ER visits, hospitalizations and utilization of higher-cost specialty care,â€ said Lopes. â€œNationwide, Community Health Centers save $1,263 per person per year with a total savings of $24 billion for taxpayers, Medicaid and other insurers. In Massachusetts alone the savings equals $1.1 billion annually.â€
Lopes said in 2013 CHCs cared for 30 percent of Medicaid patients at under two percent of the programs total costs
Lopes also said that CHC are not only providers of care, but economic engines in the low-income communities they serve.
â€œAs drivers of local economies, health centers often are the largest neighborhood employer, act as local purchasers of goods and services, and generate and stimulate secondary businesses such as restaurants, pharmacies, and retail stores,â€ said Lopes. â€œIn 2013 CHC generated, 8,777 full time jobs plus 5,526 jobs in other industries for a total of 14,304 jobs statewide.â€
Lopes added that as CHC expand so do expenditures.
â€œIn 2014, MA CHC pumped $1.86B in operating expenditures into their local economies,â€ said Lopes. â€œAs health centers expand, so do their expenditures and corresponding economic impact. In 2014 alone, Massachusetts health centers pumped about $1.86 billion in operating expenditures into their local economies. Generate tax revenues in 2014 equaled $80.5 million in state and local tax revenue. Massachusetts health centers also generate tax revenue for the Commonwealth through employee compensation, local business income, indirect business taxes, households and corporations.â€
Lopes also said that CHCs offerÂ entry level jobs and training and career building opportunities.
â€œAt EBNHC, we have partnered with Bunker Hill Community College and opened an ETI for staff and the community,â€ said Lopes. â€œThe three goals to ETI is to â€˜Get In, Get Better, Move Upâ€™. Health centers also provide critical entry level jobs and training and career building opportunities right in the communities they serve. At East Boston Neighborhood Health Center we have good employers in the communities, full-time, benefit eligible positions, health insurance products, and tuition reimbursement.â€
Lopes said at EBNHC, the Health Center has implemented its own minimum wage with its lowest paid position at $14 per hour.
John Lynds can be reached at [email protected]