The extension of the Community Health Centers Fund (CHCF) that will be voted on this week in the House marks an important step forward toward resolution of the crisis facing millions of vulnerable patients due to the expiration of the CHCF nearly a month ago. We wish to thank Members on both sides of the aisle, in particular Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden and Ranking Member Frank Pallone and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess and Ranking Member Gene Green, whose support for Health Centers and our mission has been unwavering throughout this debate.
The House legislation extends critical funding for the CHCF, as well as for important workforce programs like the National Health Service Corps and Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program, for two additional years. A two-year extension will begin to restore certainty around future investment and will allow the nation’s more than 1,400 CHC organizations to focus on doing what they do best: providing high-quality care to more than 27 million patients in thousands of communities nationwide. The fact that both the underlying bill and the substitute amendment offered by the minority call for a two-year extension only underscores the bipartisan support and agreement on the importance of extending this critical source of funding.
As the medical home for more than 8 million children in rural and underserved communities nationwide, Health Centers also support the extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) included in the bill.
NACHC has endorsed and strongly supports bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3770, led in the House by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), David Young (R-IA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) and S.1899, introduced in the Senate by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Both of these bills call for a longer, 5-year extension of the CHCF, and the significant bipartisan support for each shows there is widespread agreement on the need for long-term stability in CHC funding. While we support the two-year extension included in the House proposal, we remain committed to working with Health Center champions in both parties and in both chambers on an eventual long-term solution to the funding cliff.
NACHC recognizes the concerns and ongoing disagreement surrounding how the CHCF extension and other critical extensions are paid for under the proposal. As deliberation and debate over these priorities moves to the Senate, we are committed to working with all parties, committees, leaders and Health Center champions across Capitol Hill to see the Health Center funding cliff fixed as part of a package that can pass both chambers and be signed into law as soon as possible.