More need health centers, free clinics

July 29, 2012 at 3:34 PM

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., July 29 (UPI) -- The majority of U.S. non-profit health centers, community clinics and free clinics are seeing increased patient numbers, a survey indicates.

Direct Relief's annual "The State of the Safety Net," a one-of-a-kind report that summarizes the results of a survey conducted early in this year of U.S. non-profit community-based health clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers and free clinics as well as recent trends identified by unique analysis of the last five years of data.

Direct Relief, a medical relief organization, estimated that non-profit clinics and health centers collectively provide care to more than 21 million people across the United States annually.

"America's non-profit community health centers, clinics and free clinics are the backbone of our nation's healthcare safety net, providing care regardless of a person's insurance status, income, or ability to pay," Thomas Tighe, president and chief executive officer of Direct Relief, said in a statement.

The survey found 79 percent of non-profit community-based clinic and health center respondents saw an increase number of patients last year and 86 percent expected the number of patients without health insurance to increase during 2012.

The affects of the recession and the uncertainty during the wait for the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act has created more demand for community-based clinics and health centers. Uncertainty remains about the law's implementation in some states, Tighe said.

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