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The War on Poverty's Experiment in Public Medicine: Community Health Centers and the Mortality of Older Americans

Publication Abstract

PDF Bailey, Martha J., and Andrew Goodman-Bacon. 2014. "The War on Poverty's Experiment in Public Medicine: Community Health Centers and the Mortality of Older Americans." PSC Research Report No. 14-831. 11 2014.

This paper uses the rollout of the first Community Health Centers (CHCs) to study the longer-term health effects of increasing access to primary care. Within ten years, CHCs are associated with a reduction in age-adjusted mortality rates of 2 percent among those 50 and older. The implied 7 to 13 percent decrease in one-year mortality risk among beneficiaries amounts to 20 to 40 percent of the 1966 poor/non-poor mortality gap for this age group. Large effects for those 65 and older suggest that increased access to primary care has longer-term benefits, even for populations with near universal health insurance.

Country of focus: United States of America.

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