FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Amy Simmons
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 bill. The bipartisan legislation, should it become law, maintains the current funding level of $5.1 billion in total program funding for the Health Centers Program in FY17. Within that total, the legislation would invest $100 million in funding for expanded mental health as well as opioid prevention and treatment services at health centers nationally.
“The bipartisan Senate FY17 LHHS bill approved by the Appropriations Committee yesterday ensures stability for existing health centers and will allow for the expansion of access to much needed services in this time of increasing demand for mental health and substance use disorder services throughout the country,” said Dan Hawkins, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Research at the National Association of Community Health Centers. “I want to specifically thank Labor-HHS Subcommittee Chair Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) for showing continued confidence in and reliance on health centers to serve as leading responders to these and other public health threats. I also want to thank them for their continued recognition of the role health centers play in providing quality and affordable health care to all Americans. We look forward to working with them to ensure the Senate Labor-HHS funding levels for FY2017 become law, and that investments in health centers are stabilized moving forward.”
Continued investments from Congress in the Health Centers Program have enabled health centers to become front line providers of mental health and substance use disorder treatment in their communities. In March, 271 health centers in 45 states were awarded $94 million by the Health Services Resources Administration (HRSA) in funding from the Health Centers Fund to expand services to help treat the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. That investment in health centers is expected to help awardees hire approximately 800 providers to treat nearly 124,000 new patients. In FY15, HRSA awarded $51.3 million from the Health Centers Fund to support 210 health centers nationally to establish or expand behavioral health services for nearly 440,000 people nationwide. If enacted, the FY17 legislation approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday will build on these existing investments from Congress by providing $50 million in funding to prevent and treat opioid abuse and $50 million to expand mental health services. This funding will assist health centers in addressing these serious and increasing public health problems in underserved communities.