Growing Number of Veterans Depend on Community Health Centers

It is a great pleasure and honor to thank all of the men and women for their service and sacrifice in defending our nation at home and abroad. Happy Veterans Day to you and your families.

We are pleased to be able to do our part by providing quality health care to a rapidly growing number of veterans across the country. Every day, more and more veterans are getting their care at Community Health Centers. Health centers serve more than 300,000 veterans and their ranks have grown by 50 percent since 2008. With passage of the Veterans Choice Act in 2014, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) developed and implemented strategies designed to increase participation in the Veterans Choice Program (VCP). This is part of a broader national strategy to improve how veterans can access care right in their own communities through health centers and other local providers outside of VA facilities. NACHC has been working with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to define and strengthen the role health centers can play in ensuring that veterans have timely access to primary care and preventive health services, including oral health, obstetric care, behavioral health and substance addiction treatment. More than 700 health center organizations have signed up to become VCP providers and veterans can now receive quality care in more than 1670 health center locations around the country.

“Getting access to affordable, preventive care should not be a challenge for anyone in our country,” said NACHC President and CEO Tom Van Coverden. “Most importantly, veterans who have served and sacrificed for our nation should come home to basic health care without having to stand in line. That is why it is vitally important that Congress moves to extend adequate funding for the Community Health Center Program and secure funding for the VCP program for FY 18.”

Since expiration of the Community Health Center Fund on October 1st, health centers have experienced a disastrous loss of funding of up to 70 percent. The administration, which called for a funding extension in its FY18 budget, estimates that without a Congressional fix to the funding cliff, 2,800 health center locations will close, more than 51,000 jobs will be eliminated, and 9 million patients will lose access to care. Veterans who receive care at health centers could be affected. A NACHC survey has found that as a result of this uncertainty about long-term funding, 26 percent of health centers have reported difficulties in hiring and retaining staff., 72 percent of health centers plan to institute a hiring freeze, 41 percent report they will be forced to lay off staff, 47 percent will reduce staff hours and/or hours of operation and 42 percent will begin tapping into and spending down reserves.

To learn more about veterans care and Community Health Centers please visit this link