Iowa Primary Care Association Sets Priorities for 2020 Legislative Session

January 09, 2020

The beginning of a new year is a time for reflection on the past and future, a chance to consider where you have been and where you want to be. In conversation with our Board, comprised of the CEOs of our partner health centers, we thought it would be fitting to share our collective hopes for 2020.

Through all of the talk surrounding the current health insurance environment, patients are continuing to visit Iowa’s community health centers in record numbers. In 2019, Iowa’s health centers saw over 216,000 patients for more than 779,000 clinical visits. The number of patients increased from 184,000 in 2014, and the number of staff members providing care has continued to grow year after year. The largest changes have occurred in the health centers’ behavioral health staff and services; there has been a 4,425% increase in behavioral health visits between 2000 and 2019.

Although our health centers have been resilient in the face of this growth, they have signaled that additional infrastructure resources are necessary to ensure we can continue to meet the growing needs of our local communities.  As one striking example, Community Health Center of Fort Dodge opened their location in Mason City in October 2018, yet they are already operating with a six-month waiting list for dental services. A recent survey of Iowa health center CEOs also captured this need; increased funding for infrastructure was the most common need among our health centers.

Legislative Ask: Provide Infrastructure Resources to Expand Health Center Capacity To address our growing demand for services, the Iowa Primary Care Association asks the Iowa Legislature to provide capital expenditures to expand services at existing health centers to improve technology, physical locations, grow to meet the needs of their communities, and to remain viable employers and produce economic activity in rural areas.

Currently, Iowa is not particularly competitive when applying for national funding because our system in Iowa is relatively well functioning. However, we know there are large healthcare needs in the state and believe community health centers are positioned to address them, if we are able to expand to meet those needs. We hope we can continue to grow and serve more patients in the coming decade and years to come!