Health Center Federal Policy, Uncategorized

Health Centers Get Big Boost in President’s Budget

By Kaitlin McColgan

Today, the President released his FY2011 Budget. After all the talk of the discretionary spending freeze, health center advocates like many others were understandably wondering (and nervous about) what the budget would hold.

The answer? 

The budget contained a significant increase for the Health Centers program: $290 million.  Even more, though, it demonstrated an advanced understanding of the situation on the ground for health centers and medically underserved communities. For years, through our ACCESS for All America plan, NACHC and health centers have urged that increases to the Health Centers program preserve, strengthen and expand, and this budget does just that.

For starters, the budget appears to propose making the Increased Demand for Services or “IDS” funding to every health center in the country permanent. Making this funding permanent would essentially provide a $175 million base grant adjustment. This, combined with making the ARRA New Access Points permanent (at a cost of around $78 million), would provide funding for continued care to almost 3 million patients.

In addition, the budget calls for $40 million in growth funding above that, meaning possible service expansions, expanded medical capacity, and New Access Points (NAPs) for areas without a health center. We would have liked, of course, to see that growth funding significantly higher. As many know, there has not been an opportunity to apply to become a health center since 2007, and there is huge pent-up demand across the country for these grants. Our service and expanded medical capacity grants have also been incredibly competitive, with demand far, far outstripping need. This is one reason why NACHC’s requested increase may exceed even the President’s request.

However, on a day when so many programs are facing flat funding or minimal increases, health centers are at least in a better position than most heading into the long appropriations season. And, while this is without a doubt a positive first step in the process, there’s a long road ahead. In a year like this, we’ll need plenty of advocacy from the grassroots in the coming months to make this funding increase a reality.

Finally, if you are wondering how this funding interacts with the trust fund spending proposed in health reform, stay tuned for a future blog post on that very subject!

7 Comments on “Health Centers Get Big Boost in President’s Budget

  1. It is not clear to me if the IDS, ARRA, and growth money are all in addition to the $290 million, or if some of those are part of the $290 million. Please clarify. STAN

  2. Hi Stan,

    Good question. The answer is that these are all part of the $290 million. So, the President proposes a $290 million increase for health centers, breaking down as follows: $249 million to make IDS and the ARRA NAPs permanent (because without new money they would have entirely gone away), and then $40 million for growth.

    Hope that helps!
    Kaitlin

  3. Kaitlin – this is great news for health centers! We were hoping that that ARRA money would stick around, so this is a huge vote of confidence from the President!

  4. Can anyone tell me if HRSA/BPHC are currently accepting applications for new FQHCs – not expansion of existing centers?

    1. Hi Caroline- Unfortunately, not at this time, which is what makes the FY2011 budget so important. If an increase in FY2011 funding looks likely, HRSA will probably go ahead and put out a new guidance. In order to actually fund new health centers, Congress will need to approve a FY2011 increase in appropriations.

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