Over the past decade Congressional leadership from both parties has recognized the cost-effective care Federally Qualified Health Centers (also known as Community Health Centers) provide locally in communities across the country. But that was at risk for longer than usual this time: Community Health Centers went over the funding cliff at the end of September, 2017, and funding was not extended until February of 2018.
Community Health Centers face the same precarious funding reauthorization process in 2020. Before funding expired at the end of the year, Congress voted in December 2019 to pass a short-term funding extension for the Community Health Center Fund, which is the largest source of federal funding for health centers, as well as for the National Health Service Corps and Teaching Health Centers-Graduate Medical Education programs. Congress’ vote showed bipartisan support for community health centers, but funding for these critical programs expires on May 22, 2020. We need to call on Congress to pass a long-term funding extension before May 22 so that community health centers and their patients no longer face uncertainty about the future.
Over the past decade Congressional leadership from both parties has recognized the cost-effective care Federally Qualified Health Centers (also known as Community Health Centers) provide locally in communities across the country.
In 2015, the Community Health Centers Program faced a 70% loss of federal funding equal to $3.6 Billion nationally.
This would have meant a loss of $84 million in federal funding to North Carolina Community Health Centers.
This also would have equaled more than 20% reduction in the number of patients we could serve – more than 115,0000 patients would lose access to care.
If Congress had not renewed funding, North Carolina would have suffered the following:
A loss of $92 million in federal funding to North Carolina Community Health Centers
More than 30% reduction in the number of patients we could serve – more than 167,0000 patients will lose access to care
Potential loss of additional private funding because CHCs use federal funds to leverage funding from other sources
More than 1,000 jobs lost at community health centers in North Carolina
North Carolina’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (also known as community health centers, or CHCs) are private, nonprofit, community-based organizations that provide primary care – regardless of ability to pay – to 546,000 patients in 2017. Community health centers are led by majority consumer boards, serve medically underserved populations, and address the needs of their local communities. In 2017, ninety-two percent of North Carolina CHC patients earned less than 200% of the federal poverty guidelines and 43% are uninsured. In addition to the uninsured, CHCs serve Medicaid (25%), Medicare (13%), private pay patients (19%).
Earn less than 200% of the federal poverty guidelines
Private pay patients
The Health Center Trust Fund is the largest source of federal funding for Community Health Centers (CHCs). It was scheduled to expire at the end of FY 2015 (September 30, 2015). If Congress had not legislated new or continued funding for Community Health Centers through HR-2, the Medicare “doc fix” bill, it could have resulted in a 70% drop in federal funding for CHCs. In addition, 100% of federal funding for the National Health
Services Corps (NHSC) and the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) programs would have expired at the same time. Together with the loss of funding for Community Health Centers, there would have been drastic impacts on the availability of services and providers for rural and medically underserved populations in North Carolina and the rest of the country.
On March 26, 2015, the US House of Representatives passed HR-2, the SGR “Doc Fix” which included vital two-year extensions of funding for Health Centers and the National Health Service Corps, as well as funding for Teaching Health Centers. NACHC Statement on passage of the bill. The legislation was then approved by the Senate on April 14, 2015. President Obama signed the bill into law.