FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Amy Simmons Farber 202 309-0338
Bethesda, MD. – The Continuing Resolution (CR) Congress just passed to prevent a government shutdown includes an extension of mandatory Community Health Center Funding, the National Health Service Corps, and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program through January 19, 2024.
NACHC appreciates that Congress included health centers and workforce programs in the short-term funding bill at current funding levels. This is another indicator that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle value health centers’ role as the largest primary care network in the nation, serving 31.5 million Americans, regardless of patients’ insurance status or ability to pay.
“While we join our members in breathing a sigh of relief that Congress did not allow Community Health Center funding to expire on November 17, the repeated short-term funding extensions are disrupting the work of health centers to care for 1 in 11 Americans,” said NACHC President and CEO Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP. “We hope that this short-term agreement gives Congress time to reach a bipartisan agreement on long-term funding for health centers, including a much-needed increase in essential primary care funding, which saves lives and reduces overall health care spending.”
The short-term funding creates uncertainty for health centers, which already operate on thin margins and are facing a triple threat of fiscal pressures: workforce shortages, Medicaid redeterminations, and losses from drug manufacturer restrictions on the 340B program. Health centers are experiencing a surge in demand for their services and rising costs, yet federal funding, which accounts for a large portion of their budgets, is not keeping pace.
“The funding uncertainty is causing unnecessary stress for our member health centers that need predictability to retain and recruit providers and staff, plan and deliver services, and sustain operations,” said Dr. Rhee. “By law and mission, health centers serve communities with unequal access to health care. Congress can support that mission by passing long-term stable funding, which improves the health of our nation and delivers significant economic impact for communities that need it the most.”
Earlier this month, Dr. Rhee wrote to congressional leadership urging them to include funding for Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps, and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program in the eventual CR. View Dr. Rhee’s letter.
NACHC is the leading innovative change agent collaborating with affiliates and partners to advance Community Health Centers as the foundation of an equitable health care system free from disparities, and built on accessible, patient-governed, high-quality, integrated primary care.