Despite widespread bipartisan agreement on the need to pass long-term funding for Community Health Centers, we are extremely disappointed that this funding was not included in the Continuing Resolution introduced in the House on Tuesday night. We appreciate efforts to continue funding the federal government and the inclusion of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as the stated support from Members of Congress for addressing funding for Community Health Centers and the remaining health related programs not currently included in this package. But the House proposal falls short and does not provide the funding certainty that health centers and Members of Congress from across the political spectrum have said is necessary.
Congress’ inability to respond to the health center funding cliff has unnecessarily destabilized the health center network, and has jeopardized care for the 27 million Americans who rely on them for high quality, affordable care. Health centers and their patients are facing considerable damage with each passing day while this matter remains unresolved. Centers are being forced to execute contingency plans resulting in staff lay-offs and site closures, and are scaling back critical services including prenatal care, dental services and opioid treatment programs. If not resolved soon, this funding cliff will result in a loss of care to approximately 9 million patients, closure of over 2,500 care delivery sites, and a loss of over 50,000 jobs.
We urge the House and Senate to continue to work towards a final package that includes long-term funding for Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program, CHIP and other critical health care extenders by January 19th. Health centers simply cannot wait an entire month – until February 16th – for Congress to resolve this funding crisis. As such, we urge Congress, in the strongest possible terms, to work towards a final Continuing Resolution this week that invests in Community Health Centers and primary care on a long-term basis.