Community Health Centers began with a demonstration project under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. Today, they have grown into the largest and most successful primary care system in the country, reaching one in every 14 people in the United States and serving 25 million people annually. In 2015-16, America’s community health centers celebrated 50 years of providing comprehensive, high-quality, accessible and affordable primary and preventive healthcare services to uninsured and medically vulnerable people at more than 9,200 locations in urban and rural communities across the country. Health centers today increase access, reduce disparities, improve outcomes and reduce health care costs. Community health centers save the healthcare system approximately $28.8 billion annually. In addition to generating substantial cost savings for the health care system, health centers also boost the economic health of the communities they serve through job creation; in 2014, community health centers directly supported 170,331 full-time jobs plus an additional 169,463 jobs in other industries, generating billions in total economic activity. The strong and enduring health center mission is a testament to a remarkable past history and significant current accomplishments in access and quality, and provides a strong foundation supporting their future role in the nation’s healthcare system.

To learn more about how health centers have made a difference in communities across the nation, see NACHC’s special 50th anniversary publication.

Also visit CHroniCles, a special project dedicated to the unique and living history of the community health center movement. The site showcases contributed narratives, photos, data and other materials, celebrates the distinctive history of the health center movement and honors the significant role community health centers fulfill in the lives of millions across the country.