Nicholas Widmyer is NACHC’s Director of Federal Affairs.
Community Health Centers notched a victory when the House of Representatives passed the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act (H.R. 5378) by a vote of 320-71 in early December. This bill would provide the largest year-over-year increase in health center mandatory funding since 2015. The bill would also increase and extend funding for essential primary care workforce programs such as the National Health Service Corps and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program.
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Health centers are so grateful that Democratic and Republican Members of Congress nationwide came together in a show of support for health centers and the 31.5 million patients they serve. This accomplishment is a testament to the tireless advocacy from all levels in the Health Center Movement during the past year, to the inspiring work health centers do in their communities, and to the relationships health centers have established with their elected officials.
Next Steps to Final Funding Package
Health center mandatory funding is scheduled to expire on January 19, 2024, and passage of the House funding bill is an important step to ending the fiscal uncertainty health centers have faced for months. However, before any funding bill can go to the president’s desk and become law, the Senate and House still must agree on a final version of the bill.
NACHC is committed to securing passage of a bill with maximum funding, and is focused on key areas:
- Continuing to build support in the Senate for the Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act (S.2840) – view NACHC’s letter of support
- Working with House and Senate leadership as they negotiate a final bill, likely as part of a larger health care package, that President Biden can sign into law before current health center funding expires on January 19th
Health centers need to stay focused to make sure finishing our mandatory funding bill stays high on Congress’ to-do list. After all, Congress faces a jam-packed agenda when it comes back from its holiday break. Negotiations on a border security and national defense supplemental bill are ongoing. Also, lawmakers needs to complete the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations process that sets government discretionary spending levels, including 30 percent of the health center program’s funding.
NACHC will continue working with health center advocates to encourage Members of Congress to adopt a bipartisan bill that includes maximal funding for health centers and primary care workforce programs.
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