April 01, 2013

Truce Zone in the ACA Wars: Community Health Centers

Jason Wesco
It is, therefore, the policy of the United States to eliminate the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty in this Nation by opening to everyone the opportunity for education and training, the opportunity to work, and the opportunity to live in decency and dignity.
—Preamble, Economic Opportunity Act of 1964

Community Health Centers (CHCs), along with Head Start and the Legal Services Corporation, were conceived in President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Each of these programs was to contribute to the achievement of the lofty goal of eliminating root causes of poverty. CHCs, initially called neighborhood health centers, were to provide access to health and social services in underserved communities and to promote community healthcare empowerment, or “community health action,” in the words of Dr. Jack Geiger, CHC architect and the driving force behind the program. In keeping with his vision, funds flowed directly to local nonprofit centers, bypassing state governments, which, at the time, might not have supported the CHCs’ work and philosophy.

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