OR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Amy Simmons Farber 202 309-0338
Bethesda, MD – House lawmakers have passed bipartisan legislation that provides an extension and critical increase in Community Health Center funding. The vote (320-71 with one voting present) brings the nation’s largest primary care network one step closer to ending the fiscal uncertainty that has stretched on for months, disrupting health center operations and the ability of health centers to hire and plan services for the 1 in 11 Americans who depend on them for care.
“We are deeply appreciative for the bipartisan leadership of House lawmakers who recognize the lifesaving work that Community Health Centers carry out every day, preventing disease and costly ER visits,” said Dr. Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP. “Long-term and increased funding for health centers is an important investment in our nation’s health and the only way the 300,000 professionals who care for the millions of patients at health centers can continue to do the job that Congress asks them to do.”
“As the CEO of a health center, I am incredibly grateful to our congressional representatives for passing this bill today,” said Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez, MS, MPH, NACHC Board Chair, and President & CEO of Urban Health Plan, Inc., (UHP), Bronx, NY. “The federal funding that our health centers receive supports our workforce programs as well as the direct care provided to over 31 million patients. Sustainable and predictable funding will allow our 1400 health centers across the country to carry out our core mission of providing high-quality healthcare in medically underserved communities without regard to patient insurance coverage or ability to pay.”
Passage of The Lower Costs, More Transparency Act (H.R. 5378) provides a 10% funding increase over two years and three months when health centers care for a record number of patients at 31.5 million. The measure also extends and increases funding for essential primary care workforce programs –- the National Health Service Corps and Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education programs, which support residents and providers who practice in underserved communities.
The vote comes as thousands of health center advocates nationwide urged the House of Representatives to pass the bill, launching a massive advocacy push with scores of emails, calls, and visits to Capitol Hill. NACHC also hosted a briefing hours before the scheduled vote to underscore how the funding uncertainty – which has languished for months – has created unprecedented pressures on health centers, which typically operate on razor-thin margins. Health centers are also experiencing workforce shortages, losses from drug manufacturer restrictions on the 340B program and are responding to the growing crisis of Medicaid redeterminations, which has resulted in nearly 12 million Americans losing coverage. Federal funding accounts for a large portion of health centers’ budgets and enables them to carry out their core mission of caring for patients regardless of whether they have an insurance card.
NACHC is the leading innovative change agent collaborating with affiliates and partners to advance Community Health Centers as the foundation of an equitable health care system free from disparities, and built on accessible, patient-governed, high-quality, integrated primary care.