FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Amy Simmons Farber 202 309-0338
BETHESDA, MD — With a September 30th deadline drawing closer, efforts on Capitol Hill to craft bipartisan legislation that extends funding for Community Health Centers and essential primary care workforce programs will be considered next week. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Sen. Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, have announced legislation ahead of a markup Thursday, Sept. 21, that boosts critical funding for health centers, as well as the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), and Teaching Health Centers. Highlights of the “Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act” include:
- Increase funding for Community Health Centers to $5.8 billion per year for three years.
- Provides $3 billion in capital funding for health centers to expand dental care and mental health care in their facilities.
- Increase National Health Service Corps funding from $310 million to $950 million per year and provide scholarships and debt forgiveness for 20,000 doctors, nurses, dentists, and mental health professionals who work in underserved areas.
- Provides $1.5 billion over the next five years to the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program to create more than 700 new primary care residency slots, resulting in up to 2,800 additional physicians by 2031.
- Authorizes $100 million a year for a Workforce Innovation Fund to support community-led models to educate and train allied health professionals.
“Health centers appreciate the strong leadership from Chairman Sanders and Sen. Roger Marshall for introducing the ‘Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act,’” said Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). “This bill lays out a vision that emphasizes the role of health centers and expands their reach beyond the 31.5 million existing patients by providing allowances for more comprehensive essential services, including dental and mental health. The bill also encourages much-needed growth of the primary care workforce by investing in innovative health center-led career development programs. We look forward to consideration of this bill and securing a funding extension that is timely, bipartisan, and can get signed into law – so that health centers can be assured that they will be able to continue serving 31.5 million current patients, as well as the millions more who need care.”
NACHC has been leading the push among health center advocates across the country for bipartisan legislation to address the looming expiration of the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) and key primary care workforce programs. With the deadline drawing closer, the fiscal uncertainty is already creating disruptions in hiring and planning essential services for health center patients. The CHCF represents 70 percent of health center funding.
About National Association of Community Health Centers
Established in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) serves as the leading national voice for America’s Health Centers and as an advocate for health care access for the medically underserved and uninsured.