The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Build Back Better Act, by a vote of 220 to 213. The measure contains key Community Health Center priorities that include billions to construct or expand new health center facilities and build the health center workforce of the future. Specifically, the legislation includes $2 billion for health center capital, nearly $3.4 billion for the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, $2 billion for the National Health Service Corps and $500 million for the Nurse Corps. The bill also provides coverage for millions in the Medicaid coverage gap and boosts Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies for more people through 2025. A recent report from researchers at George Washington University estimated that nearly 1.34 million uninsured health center patients would gain coverage in 2022 under the bill. There is also a requirement in place for Medicaid extend coverage for one-year postpartum in an effort to reduce maternal deaths; also language to expand Medicare coverage to include hearing services.
“The health care provisions in the Build Back Better Act will help Community Health Centers continue to deliver results for the nearly 29 million patients of all ages served across the country,” said NACHC Senior Vice President for Policy and Research Joe Dunn. “Health centers continue to be on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic but the investments in health center capital, primary care workforce programs, Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA Marketplaces, will facilitate access to high-quality care into the future.”
Community Health Center advocates from around the country have been urging lawmakers to pass the legislation and help strengthen the safety-net, which has been stretched to the limit over the course of the past 19 months during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Established in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) serves as the national voice for America’s Health Centers and as an advocate for health care access for the medically underserved and uninsured.