Funding for CHCs is set to expire on November 21, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) joined a bipartisan group of 25 Senators to urge Senate Leadership to ensure long-term funding for community health centers (CHCs), which provide care to more than 200,000 Mainers. The letter calls for immediate passage of the Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act of 2019, which would reauthorize the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) and the National Health Service Corps for five years. Senators Collins and King are both original cosponsors of the CHIME Act.
“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.”
“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,” the senators continued. “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.”
Community health centers provide access to cost-effective primary and preventive care for more than 200,000 people in Maine and are a critical part of the nation’s primary care network. Across the nation, CHCs serve approximately 29 million patients at over 10,000 sites in both rural and urban communities in every state in the nation. In 2017, community health centers were the medical home for one in twelve Americans, one in ten children, one in six Americans living in rural areas, and more than 330,000 of our nation’s veterans.
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Shelley Moore Capito (D-W. Va.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Click here to read the full letter.