Survey Shows Funding Cliff Already Disrupting Access to Care at Community Health Centers

Amy Simmons Farber 301/347-0400 (202) 309 0338

The nation’s Community Health Centers are already facing disruptions to care as a result of the funding cliff which took effect on October 1.   Even before the 70 percent cut to grant funding takes effect, 26 percent of health centers have reported difficulties in hiring and retaining staff, according to a survey of health centers nationally, the results of which were released today in an infographic by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC).

Health centers are considering or taking a number of actions that will have an immediate impact on their capacity to provide high quality care to their patients:
• 72 percent plan to institute a hiring freeze.
• 41 percent will lay off staff.
• 47 percent will reduce staff hours and/or hours of operation.
• 42 percent will begin tapping into and spending down reserves.
• More than half (52 percent) will cancel or delay a facility renovation or expansion.
• 53 percent will cancel or delay performance improvement investments.

The survey was fielded to health centers on September 26th .  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that failure to extend the Community Health Centers Fund will cause 9 million low-income Americans to lose access to health care and will lead to the closure of some 2,800 locations and elimination of more than 51,000 jobs in underserved communities.  Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the House (H.R. 3770) and the Senate (S. 1899) to extend funding for health centers, but lawmakers are working amid a crowded legislative calendar.