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Farmington Press: Blunt, Stabenow introduce bill extending community health center funding

January 17, 2019

U.S. senators Roy Blunt, R-MO, and Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, last week introduced the Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act, which would reauthorize the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) for five years.

In addition, the bipartisan bill provides annual increases for the CHCF and NHSC beginning in FY 2020.

“Community health centers serve more than half a million Missourians, including many veterans and individuals who are uninsured or live in under-served areas,” said Blunt. “These centers save lives and lower health care costs by offering a wide range of behavioral and physical health treatment services and reducing the number of expensive, unnecessary trips to emergency rooms or hospitals.

"This bipartisan bill will ensure community health centers and the National Health Service Corps have the resources to continue providing quality, affordable health care services in communities across the state. I will continue working to make sure people who rely on community health centers have access to the care they need.”

Stabenow said, “Community health centers provide quality, affordable health care to 28 million people nationally and more than 680,000 people in Michigan, including 217,000 children and 13,000 veterans. It is critical that we increase funding for community health centers so they can serve more patients in need and provide certainty to clinics before funding expires on Sept. 30.”

“This legislation helps secure much needed long-term funding for Community Health Centers at a time when the demand for preventive care in communities across the country continues to grow,” said Tom Van Coverden, Chief Executive Officer for the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). “Health centers now serve 28 million people nationwide, including more than 355,000 veterans.

"Their mission to reduce chronic disease in communities, curb health care costs and deliver savings to the American taxpayer is working and must be allowed to continue. We are also up to the challenge of addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic and other crises in collaboration with Congressional leaders. We are grateful for Senators Blunt and Stabenow and for their leadership in advancing a bipartisan solution that will make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans.”

Community health centers provide quality medical, dental, vision and behavioral health care to 28 million patients, including more than 355,000 of our nation’s veterans and 8 million children, at over 11,000 sites nationwide.

In February 2018, Blunt and Stabenow announced that, following their advocacy efforts, funding for community health centers was reauthorized for two years with a $600 million funding increase as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act.

The CHIME Act is cosponsored by U.S. senators Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Tom Carper (Del.), Susan Collins (Maine), John Cornyn (Texas), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), Doug Jones (Ala.), Angus King (Maine), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Gary Peters (Mich.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Jon Tester (Mont.), and Roger Wicker (Miss.).

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