Washington, DC – In a matter of days, every health center in America stands to lose more than 70% of their federal grant funding without Congress extending the funding by September 30. Community Health Centers provide care to 29 million people across the country, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). One in twelve Americans, among them families and veterans living in underserved and rural communities, depend on Community Health Centers for health care.
Through bipartisan Administrations and Congresses, policymakers have consistently made strategic investments in health center growth and ongoing operations. Every $1 in federal spending generates $5.73 in economic growth. Failure to act will have a far reaching and profound impact on health centers patients and the local economies.
Advocates – includingpatients, doctors, nurses, and local community members – will be on Capitol Hill on September 10 to urge Congress to vote to extend funding for the Community Health Center Fund, the National Health Service Corps, and the Teaching Health Centers program.
“Congress has designated health centers as their front line partners for national health challenges – whether caring for veterans, providing opioid treatment, addressing the increase in maternal deaths or responding to natural disasters, health centers are consistently called upon to respond to major challenges,” said Lathran Johnson Woodard, NACHC Board Chair and CEO of the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association (SCPHCA). “These community owned health centers deliver value to taxpayers, save lives and reduce health costs. We need stable and long-term funding because health care for millions of people cannot run on financial uncertainty.”
Budget battles in Congress and other legislative priorities could cause the funding to expire. Now health centers are preparing to make difficult decisions. A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The George Washington University reported concerns among health centers about possible service cutbacks, hiring freezes, delayed renovations or expansions, or site closures. In order for health centers to continue providing these vital services, it is imperative that Congress act soon.