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Senator Blunt Urges Senate Finance Committee To Continue Supporting Community Health Centers

March 17, 2015

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), who serves as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, sent a letter today to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (Ore.) to request their support for the reauthorization of the Health Centers Fund, which provides federal funding for Community Health Centers.

“In Missouri, Community Health Centers serve 450,000 people, 152,755 of which are uninsured. The cost of treating these individuals through Community Health Centers is $156 per encounter as opposed to the average emergency room visit which costs $2,168. In fact, studies have shown that Community Health Centers save Medicaid 30 percent on each beneficiary due to the reduction in inappropriate usage of emergency rooms and unnecessary hospitalizations,” Blunt wrote.

Blunt continued, “Since Community Health Centers offer affordable care to the uninsured, they rely on federal resources to help offset the cost of care. If funding that Community Health Centers have relied on through the Health Centers Fund is not reauthorized, they will be facing a reduction in $3.6 billion in federal funding, which the Appropriations Committee cannot address due to budgetary caps enacted in the Budget Control Act. This will result in over 2,000 Community Health Centers closing.”

ObamaCare created a mandatory spending program for Community Health Centers for five years. The program ends at the end of this fiscal year, which creates a funding cliff for Community Health Centers. These centers save money by providing a cost-saving alternative to emergency rooms in many communities that do not otherwise have access to primary care. The Senate Appropriations Committee still funds part of the Community Health Centers, but cannot make-up the $2.7 billion short-fall they will receive at the end of the fiscal year.

To read the entire letter, please see below or click here.

Dear Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden:

I write in support of Community Health Centers. Community Health Centers serve a vital function and help provide affordable care to as many as 62 million Americans who do not have access to primary care. They provide quality medical, dental, behavioral health care, and vision care to more than 23 million patients in over 9,000 communities.

In Missouri, Community Health Centers serve 450,000 people, 152,755 of which are uninsured. The cost of treating these individuals through Community Health Centers is $156 per encounter as opposed to the average emergency room visit which costs $2,168. In fact, studies have shown that Community Health Centers save Medicaid 30 percent on each beneficiary due to the reduction in inappropriate usage of emergency rooms and unnecessary hospitalizations.

Since Community Health Centers offer affordable care to the uninsured, they rely on federal resources to help offset the cost of care. If funding that Community Health Centers have relied on through the Health Centers Fund is not reauthorized, they will be facing a reduction in $3.6 billion in federal funding, which the Appropriations Committee cannot address due to budgetary caps enacted in the Budget Control Act. This will result in over 2,000 Community Health Centers closing.

As the Senate Finance Committee considers legislation in the upcoming weeks addressing the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, I ask that you also include reauthorization of the Health Centers Fund.



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