Community Health Centers could help lower medical costs for many Wisconsin residents.

Wisconsin currently has 16 Community Health Centers serving low-income residents of rural and urban areas. Those facilities often provide a cheaper way to access medical care.

Stephanie Harrison is executive director of the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association. She says community supported centers can keep health care costs down by increasing access to regular medical treatments, rather than waiting for an emergency room visit. She says low-income individuals without access to regular care often wait for an emergency room visit to get treatment, which can drive up costs by hundreds or thousands of dollars. By getting regular care, Harrison says the cost of treating a condition can go down dramatically.

A new study from the National Association of Community Health Care Centers found medical expenses dropped by up to 41 percent for some patients.

Community Health Centers are federally funded and locally run facilities. Harrison says they typically help provide medical care in areas where people can't easily afford it or access is limited.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (MP3 :59)

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