NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

Martha J. Bailey, Andrew Goodman-Bacon

NBER Working Paper No. 20653
Issued in October 2014, Revised in March 2015
NBER Program(s):Aging, , Development of the American Economy, Development Economics, Health Care, Health Economics, , Public Economics

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20653

Published: Martha J. Bailey & Andrew Goodman-Bacon, 2015. "The War on Poverty's Experiment in Public Medicine: Community Health Centers and the Mortality of Older Americans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 1067-1104, March. citation courtesy of

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