February 06, 2018

Warner & Kaine Urge Senate Leaders To Fund Community Health Centers

~ More than 300,000 Virginians in underserved communities rely on this funding for basic healthcare services ~

A list of Virginia CHCs can be found here.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined a bipartisan group of Senators in calling on Senate leadership to reauthorize funding for community health centers, which provide access to cost-effective primary and preventive care for families across the country. 

“Community health centers serve a vital function, providing affordable health care to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. They 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,” said the Senators in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “Without extension of the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF), community health centers will lose seventy percent of their funding.  This will result in an estimated 2,800 site closures, the loss of 50,000 jobs, and approximately 9 million Americans losing access to their health care.” 

“Over 300,000 Virginians in 144 communities depend on this funding for access to basic health care services. We greatly appreciate Senators Warner and Kaine, and all of our Members of Congress coming together to make sure that these critical health care services are not interrupted to these medically underserved communities,” said Rick Shinn, Director of Government Affairs, Virginia Community Healthcare Association.

As the Senators note in their letter, the CHCF expired on September 30, 2017. 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.

According to the Virginia Community Healthcare Association, more than 300,000 Virginians in underserved communities rely on this funding to access basic healthcare services. A comprehensive list of community health centers in the Commonwealth of Virginia can be found here.

“We look forward to working with you to reach a bipartisan agreement to fund the community health center program and enable our community health centers to continue providing high quality and affordable care to those in need,” the Senators concluded.

A pdf of the letter can be found here. Full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer:

We write to express our concern over funding for community health centers, which expired on September 30, 2017.  We strongly urge you to reauthorize this funding immediately.

Community health centers serve a vital function, providing affordable health care to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.  They 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.  By offering preventative care, treating chronic conditions, and working to fight the opioid epidemic, community health centers are not only greatly improving the health and well-being of those they serve, they are also saving significant taxpayer dollars.  

Without extension of the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF), community health centers will lose seventy percent of their funding.  This will result in an estimated 2,800 site closures, the loss of 50,000 jobs, and approximately 9 million Americans losing access to their health care.  Moreover, community health centers operate as small businesses and require a level of predictability to operate and respond to the needs of their communities.  Since the expiration of the CHCF, community health centers have not been able to adequately plan for everything from staffing needs to securing loans for capital projects. In addition, the expiration of the National Health Service Corps and Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education program threatens the ability of health centers to meet their workforce needs.

For more than fifty years, community health centers have experienced strong bipartisan support.  In fact, twenty bipartisan senators cosponsor legislation which reauthorizes funding not only for community health centers but also for the National Health Service Corps.

We look forward to working with you to reach a bipartisan agreement to fund the community health center program and enable our community health centers to continue providing high quality and affordable care to those in need.

 

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