FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Amy Simmons Farber, 202 309-0338
BETHESDA, MD — At a news briefing today, health center advocates described how fiscal uncertainty affects operations among the nation’s Community Health Centers, creating disruptions in hiring clinicians and planning services for the 31.5 million patients they serve. Unless Congress acts by September 30, 2023, all federal funding for health centers expires. NACHC has been leading the push among health center advocates across the country for bipartisan legislation to address the looming expiration of the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) and critical primary care workforce programs, such as the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program. The CHCF represents 70 percent of health center funding.
“Historically, the value of the Community Health Center program has been reflective in the bipartisan support we have received. Today’s federal spending debate comes at a dire moment as Health Centers and the record 31.5 million people we care for continue to recover from the damage left in the wake of COVID. Underinvestment in the only safety-net our patients can count on would undoubtedly cause further devastation to those who are most vulnerable,” said Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez, MS, MPH, NACHC Board Chair, and President & CEO of Urban Health Plan, Inc., (UHP), Bronx, Queens, and Central Harlem, NY.
“I am staying up at night worrying about the stability of our primary care workforce. This debate over health center funding comes as clinicians are considering what residency they should go on, what training program, or whether or not they should sign a contract at a Community Health Center. That is why it makes sense to invest in health centers and in primary care development programs to grow the current workforce of 285,000 health center professionals,” said Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP, President and CEO of NACHC.
“Health centers make a difference in rural communities just like mine every day and continued funding is critical and vitally important to all of us who depend on health centers to provide great care for every one every day regardless of their ability to pay,” said Deborah Morrison, a patient and Board Chair of Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center in rural Ahoskie, NC.
“I am cautiously optimistic that there seems to be congressional progress regarding continued health center funding. Any disruption would be detrimental to our ability to sustain operations and health care access for all of Cornell Scott Hill Health Center’s 55,000+ patients. That same impact would be multiplied for the 31.5 million patients cared for by the nation’s 1,400 plus health centers,” said Michael R. Taylor, NACHC Board Chair-Elect, CEO of Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, New Haven, CT.
The news briefing comes as lawmakers in the House and Senate are working against the clock on bipartisan measures in both chambers. In the House, the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act (H.R. 5378) is ready for floor consideration and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is set to consider the Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act. Both bills extend and increase funding for the more than 1,400 health centers nationwide that provide care to more than 31 million patients nationwide, including 8.8 million children. The bills also extend and increase funding for key primary care workforce programs that are essential to building a diverse health care workforce and addressing provider shortages in underserved areas.
About National Association of Community Health Centers
Established in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) serves as the leading national voice for America’s Health Centers and as an advocate for health care access for the medically underserved and uninsured.