October 02, 2014

Kaine Joins Bipartisan Group Of Senators Urging Support For Community Health Centers

Senators warn that 70 percent cut in funding will make it harder for Virginia families to get access to health care

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Tim Kainejoined 65 of his Senate colleagues to urge Senate leaders to support community health centers, which will face a nearly 70 percent funding cut next September if Congress does not intervene. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the bipartisan group explained that this financial cliff will likely result in site closures and devastating staff layoffs, preventing millions of people in high-need communities from access to cost-effective, primary care services.

"It is critical that we continue providing necessary funding for health centers that serve low-income families in Virginia and across the country, " said Kaine. "These centers provide access to primary and preventive health care services to those in need and employ people in communities throughout the Commonwealth, providing a boost to local economies. Community health centers have strong bipartisan support and I am hopeful that we can come together to include funding for the next fiscal year.” 

Health centers serve as the primary health care provider for nearly 260,000 Virginia residents in more than 100 clinics across the state. 

"[Operational funding] reductions could result in the closure of health center sites, layoffs of providers and staff, and most importantly, a loss of access to primary and preventive care for millions of patients who often have no other place to turn,” the bipartisan group of Senators wrote. “The effect of this reduction would be felt beyond health centers themselves, with a more expensive and less efficient health care system along with a loss of access to care and economic vitality in thousands of communities across the country."

  

The full text of the letter is below:

The Honorable Harry Reid 
Majority Leader 
U.S. Senate 
S-221 US Capitol 
Washington, DC 20510 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
S-230 US Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Leader Reid and Leader McConnell,

We are writing to share our support for community health centers and to bring to your attention an issue that could threaten the access to the cost-effective primary and preventive care they provide. We respectfully request your continued support of the Health Centers program to ensure our local health centers can continue delivering access to primary and preventive health care services beyond Fiscal Year (FY) 2015.

Health Centers have a long history of bipartisan support. Since the first community health centers were founded nearly fifty years ago, health centers have become the nation's largest primary care network, collectively serving more than 22 million patients in more than 9,000 communities in every state and territory. Health centers are locally-governed small businesses providing a comprehensive range of primary care services while remaining responsive to community needs. Health centers employ more than 150,000 people, and generate an economic impact in the billions in some of the nation's most economically deprived communities. Studies have shown health centers generate savings to the health care system on the order of $24 billion annually, primarily through reductions in unnecessary Emergency Department (ED) visits and hospitalizations.

Health Centers represent one of the most prudent investments we can make within our health care system. However, after FY 2015, Health Centers are facing reductions of between sixty and seventy percent to their operational funding. The reductions could result in the closure of health center sites, layoffs of providers and staff, and most importantly, a loss of access to primary and preventive care for millions of patients who often have no other place to turn. The effect of this reduction would be felt beyond health centers themselves, with a more expensive and less efficient health care system along with a loss of access to care and economic vitality in thousands of communities across the country. 

We know the current budgetary constraints and that difficult choices must be made in this fiscal climate. However, we earnestly hope that we will work together in a bipartisan way to responsibly address this situation in a way that ensures continued sustainability and viability of community health centers across America.

Thank you very much for your consideration of our thoughts and for your steadfast support to ensure community health centers continue to play vital roles in our communities in the future.

 

Sincerely,

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