Community health centers rake in big profits

In addition to receiving government grants and higher reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, many community health centers had profit margins of 20 percent or more in the last few years, Kaiser Health News reported Aug. 15. 

In 2021, the federal government gave over $6 billion in grants to 1,375 privately run health centers across the country, and the American Rescue Plan Act gave them $6 billion more over two years due to the pandemic, according to the report. Health centers also received more in reimbursement payments from Medicare and Medicaid than private physicians, according to Kaiser Health News. 

In return for federal dollars, community health centers must accept all patients regardless of their ability to pay for care. But even with this influx of patients, most community health centers have had profit margins of 20 percent. Most hospitals in the U.S. averaged operating margins of 1.4 percent as of March. 

Where those profits are going is unclear. 

"No one is tracking where all their money is going," Ganisher Davlyatov, assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma who has studied health center finance, told the publication. 

Health centers are regulated under the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, which has limited authority on how centers use their profits. It is expected that the centers will use these funds to invest in existing hospitals and expanding care services. 

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