Contact: Amy Simmons Farber 202 309 0338
On behalf of America’s 1,400 Community Health Centers, serving 30 million people at almost 14,000 care delivery sites, we want to express our profound disappointment at the President’s call to cease all economic stimulus negotiations until after the November election. Like thousands upon thousands of other American businesses these days, our nation’s health centers are suffering massive revenue shortfalls and deep uncertainty about what the future holds – and we need action now.
Like many of America’s health care providers, health centers have been heroically serving on the front-lines of the COVID response since this pandemic began. We have been called upon to not only keep our primary and preventive care services functioning in the face of massive in-person patient visit cancellations and reduced telehealth reimbursements – but to also institute and conduct routine COVID testing and treatment – often with little to no financial assistance. Our centers have had to not only reconfigure their entire clinical workflows and undertake material alterations to their facilities, but also create portable and curbside testing and clinical treatment options – all while losing revenue and operating on reduced staffing levels.
Furthermore, health centers’ economic pain has been, and continues to be, exacerbated by ongoing uncertainty around a commitment to long-term operational funding from Congress, chronic clinical and administrative workforce shortages, vastly underfunded outstanding capital improvement needs, and – most recently –an assault on the crucial 340B federal drug discount program by pharmaceutical manufacturers and the current Administration. Projected operational revenue losses alone over these many months are estimated to be in excess of $8 billion – not to mention the potential loss of additional billions of dollars regularly saved through the 340B drug discount program – which are then reinvested into additional critical health care services. However, in spite of all this uncertainty, last year alone our centers served 1 in 11 Americans — including 1 in 4 uninsured individuals — and 1 in 8 children in this country.
Birthed from America’s struggle for Civil Rights and the effort to eliminate health disparities for our nation’s most medically underserved, health centers have been fighting against the odds from Day One. By law and by mission, we have a proud, almost 60 year, history of delivering services to all – regardless of their ability to pay. Yet at a time when the nation is asking us to do even more in the fight against COVID-19 – including being an important part of the country’s vaccine delivery system – we are struggling with uncertainty. For every week and month that goes by without additional economic assistance, our centers are having to ask themselves the hard questions – questions such as: How will we continue to pay our staff members? How many do we need to lay-off or let go? What services should we curtail or terminate all together? Should we reduce our hours of operation? Which locations can we afford to keep open? How many vulnerable patients do we need to stop providing services to?
Yet, in the face of all these many challenges — health centers, as always, will answer the call – and stand ready to do and serve even more. And while, over these past several months, we have been forced to bend — we are not yet broken. America can rest assured that no matter what happens –health centers will draw upon the strength and commitment of those who have come before us and hold the line — continuing to show up and care for those who need us most.
Know this: we will never cease advocating for our patients and our communities – and we will continue to educate and keep up the pressure for additional funding for our centers. In the meantime, it remains our sincere hope that the Administration will reconsider its harmful position and recommence talks with Congress to pass much needed additional and overdue stimulus funding, not only to ensure the survival of health centers but for our nation as a whole.