WASHINGTON—With federal funding for community health centers (CHCs) set to expire next month, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and a bipartisan group of senators are pushing for a long-term funding fix to avoid disruption of care for the 28 million-plus Americans who use CHCs.
Boozman and 26 of his colleagues signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) that urges immediate passage of the Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act of 2019. The bipartisan letter was authored by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
“Community health centers provide affordable health care to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens,” the senators wrote. “More than 29 million patients, including 385,000 veterans and 8.7 million children, receive quality medical, dental, vision, and behavioral health care services from a community health center. These centers work to combat the opioid epidemic, offer preventive care to patients, and treat chronic conditions to improve the health of those they serve while saving taxpayer dollars. On average, health centers save over $2,300 per Medicaid patient and save the health care system $24 billion each year.”
The CHIME Act would reauthorize the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) and the National Health Service Corps for five years. Funding for CHCs is set to expire on November 21, 2019.
“If the CHCF expires, community health centers will lose seventy percent of their federal grant funding. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, this would cause an estimated 2,400 site closures, 47,000 lost jobs, and threaten the health care of approximately 9 million Americans. As small businesses, community health centers must have certainty to best serve the needs of their communities and their patients. Some centers will soon have to take steps in anticipation of a funding lapse, including reducing staff and operating hours, cancelling capital projects, or even preparing to close their doors. If the CHCF expires next month, community health centers will be unable to plan for the future and continue to better the health of their communities. Additionally, the expiration of the National Health Service Corps and Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education program would harm the ability of health centers to meet their growing workforce needs,” the senators stated in the letter.
Congress included a two-year CHCF reauthorization with a $600 million increase as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act after its funding expired in 2017.
In addition to Boozman, Blunt and Stabenow, the letter was signed by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Doug Jones (D-AL), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Gary Peters (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
The full letter can be read by clicking on the attached file below.
Original article source: https://www.boozman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2019/10/boozman-joins-colleagues-to-urge-extension-of-funding-for-community-health-centers | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council