Congress has passed and the president has signed legislation providing crucial funding for community health centers. The National Association of Community Health Centers issued this statement in response:
NACHC Statement on Enactment of H.R. 2
The Senate has passed H.R. 2, and the President has signed into law, the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. This follows House passage by a vote of 392-37 last month. The law includes a 2 year extension of critical mandatory funding for Community Health Centers, as well as for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) Program.
“America’s Health Centers and the more than 23 million patients they serve are extremely grateful that this bipartisan legislation recognizes and invests in the health center system of care” said Tom Van Coverden, President and CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). “Health centers have been living under the uncertainty of the Primary Care Cliff, and, now that this legislation has passed, our dedicated clinicians and staff can get back to the daily work of providing high quality primary and preventive care to underserved patients and communities. In particular, health centers are grateful to the Congressional champions who led the fight to invest in the health center model and bring stability to federal funding.”
The effort to address the Primary Care Cliff began with bipartisan letters sent to House and Senate leaders last fall. In the House, that letter was championed by Congressman Gene Green (D-TX), Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX), Congressman Leonard Lance (D-NJ) and Congressman David Price (D-NC), and in the Senate, the letter was led by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator John Boozman (R-AR), and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE).
After thousands of health center advocates descended on Washington, D.C., House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made the health center funding extension a cornerstone of the negotiated package that became H.R. 2. Bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate also sent letters to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittees underscoring their strong support for continued health center funding. A substantial portion — $1.5 billion of the total funding for health centers — is controlled by the appropriations process. The legislation passed today stabilizes federal support for health centers at a time when demand for affordable primary care is growing.
“Every health center advocate has communicated to policymakers that when it comes to the problems with our healthcare system, ‘Access is the Answer,’” said Dan Hawkins, Senior Vice President of Policy and Research at NACHC. “Access to care in health centers improves the health of patients and communities, generates economic impact and saves the health system and taxpayers’ money. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to deliver on the promise of H.R. 2 and make access to affordable care a reality for millions of patients.”