NACHC Statement on Senate Health Care Debate

Contact: Amy Simmons Farber    

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At a time of great uncertainty across the health care system, America’s Health Centers are on the front lines of health care delivery in communities nationwide, responding to crises from hurricanes to the opioid epidemic. The Medicaid program and federal grant investments are critically important to health centers’ financial viability and most importantly to our patients’ health care needs – therefore we are concerned about any legislation which could have a dramatic impact on the 27 million people we serve.

Outside, nonpartisan estimates of the impact of the Graham-Cassidy proposal project this legislation would result in millions of patients losing access to coverage and care.  NACHC shares the concerns expressed by patient advocates, physicians, safety net providers, health insurers and other health care stakeholders over this and other legislative proposals that reduce coverage and weaken protections for the vulnerable populations health centers serve.

Compounding these concerns, critical funding for Community Health Centers and other critical health care safety net programs, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the National Health Service Corps and the Teaching Health Center programs are set to expire at the end of this month. The administration, which called for a funding extension in its FY18 budget, estimates that without Congressional action to address the health centers “funding cliff,” some 2,800 health center locations will close, more than 51,000 jobs will be eliminated, and 9 million patients will lose access to care.

This week, 70 bipartisan Senators from across the political spectrum called for swift action to address this cliff, yet with only days left before funding expires and no agreed-upon fix, health centers face the very real prospect of having to make devastating cuts.

We urge Congress to focus the health care debate on bipartisan solutions like the extension of the CHIP program and stabilizing Community Health Center funding, which deliver value for taxpayers and improve patient health outcomes.