The Health Center Program is authorized in Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act and administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The federal program under current law is financed through a combined mix of discretionary funding passed by Congress through the regular appropriation process for each fiscal year, and mandatory funding made available under the Community Health Center Fund. This Fund was established under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which provided a major supplementary infusion of $11 billion over a five-year period for the operation, expansion, and construction of health centers throughout the nation.
In 2015, Congress extended the Community Health Center Fund assuring health centers a continued source of mandatory funding of $3.6 billion annually for two additional years (FY16 and FY17) The extension temporarily averted the “Primary Care Cliff” which would have ended mandatory funding — resulting in a 70% cutback in program funding. In the current fiscal year (FY16), the nation’s health centers are funded with $1.4 billion from discretionary funds and $3.6 billion in mandatory funds.
Federal Budget Process Overview
In order for federal funds to be appropriated, they must be: (1) passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and (2) signed by the President. Each year, this process formally begins with the President’s submission of his budget request to Congress. Even when the budget process follows a “regular” course of action, securing final congressional approval of each of each of the 12 spending bills that fund our government takes months of consideration and debate. This includes the Labor-Health and Human Services Education appropriations bill, which provides the discretionary “base” funding for the Health Center Program.
NACHC Appropriations Fact Sheets
- NACHC 2017 Policy Paper – Funding
- 2017 Informational Infographic Series: Nuts and Bolts-Health Center Funding
NACHC Talking Points, Letters
- Bipartisan Senate Letter to Secretary Burwell on Obligation of FY15 Funds for Health Centers
- Talking Points on Obligation of Remaining FY15 funds
Health Center Value and Cost-Effectiveness – Numerous research studies have shown that health centers are a cost-effective and high quality solution assuring that Americans in rural and urban underserved areas have access to comprehensive primary and preventative health care services. Additionally, health centers provide a return on the federal investment Congress makes in the Health Center program. Below are a few resources to assist you in your outreach to Senate and House offices as you speak to the benefits and value of the Health Center Program.
- America’s Health Centers, March 2017
- NACHC Infographic: Providing Quality Care, Producing Results, August 2014
Health Center Appropriations “Dear Colleagues” and Letters of Support- Every year, Congressional Champions of the Health Center Program lead letters to the Appropriations Committees in both the Senate and House conveying support for the program. Below you can find the current House and Senate funding letters and the Members of Congress who have signed in support, as they become available.
Senate letter – currently closed
House of Representatives letter – currently closed