February 08, 2018
WASHINGTON – Following a months-long bipartisan effort, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) today announced that critical funding for community health centers will be reauthorized for two years with a $600 million funding increase as part of a new budget deal. Funding for community health centers, which serve more than 27 million people nationally, expired on September 30, 2017.
“More than half a million Missourians, many of whom are uninsured or on Medicaid, rely on community health centers for quality, affordable health care,” said Blunt. “This two-year funding extension, which includes a $600 million increase, will provide community health centers the certainty they need to plan for the future and give families peace of mind that they’ll have access to care.”
“After a long fight, we finally have great news for families in Michigan and across the country who rely on community health centers for the health care they need,” said Stabenow. “This is a big relief for our families, veterans, and children who won’t have to wonder anymore if they’ll be able to see a doctor.”
“Community Health Centers and the 27 million people who depend on them for care are deeply appreciative of the outstanding leadership shown by U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO),” said Dan Hawkins, Senior Vice President for Policy and Research at NACHC. “Both Senators have stood with health centers for many years now, and from the beginning of this current funding cliff crisis they have done everything possible to ensure that health center staff and patients would not be forced to endure another day of uncertainty. Their hard work and vigilance have made an enormous difference in the lives of so many.”
Community health centers provide quality medical, dental, vision and behavioral health care to more than 27 million patients, including 330,000 of our nation’s veterans and 8 million children, at over 10,000 sites nationwide. Without extension of the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF), community health centers would have lost seventy percent of their funding. This would have resulted in an estimated 2,800 site closures, the loss of 50,000 jobs, and approximately 9 million Americans losing access to their health care.
Blunt and Stabenow authored bipartisan legislation to fund health centers and, earlier this week, led 65 of their colleagues in calling on Senate leadership to immediately reauthorize funding for community health centers. The failure to reauthorize the fund has jeopardized access to care for millions of Americans and made it difficult for community health centers to adequately plan for everything from staffing needs to securing loans for capital projects.
Blunt and Stabenow previously sent a letter, which was signed by a bipartisan group of 70 senators, urging the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman and Ranking Member to extend funding for community health centers.