by Krystal E. Knight, MPH
Last Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed H.Res.38, a resolution calling for the House Budget Committee Chairman to cut non-security discretionary spending to at least FY 2008 levels or less for the last seven months of FY 2011. Also last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced that the House of Representatives would vote on the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution (CR) sometime during the week of February 14th. Given this timeline, House Appropriations Committee staff will need to begin working as soon as possible – if they have not begun already – to draft a CR in time for a mid-February vote. Every discretionary program, including the Health Centers program, is at risk for significant funding cuts in the current environment. However, our Hill outreach is underway, and we continue to make the case to Members and staff of the Appropriations Committee that it is imperative that health centers receive at least level funding of $2.19 billion in FY 2011. This funding level will allow for continuing the expansion of the cost-effective, high-quality, and patient-directed health center model of care to 20 million new patients by 2015.
As we’ve previously reported, the federal government and government-funded programs, including the Health Centers program, are being funded through a CR at FY 2010 levels until March 4th. At that time, Congress would have to act in some way to keep the government and its programs operational.
We will spend the next few weeks focusing our efforts in the House given the mid-February timing of a vote on a CR and sources on the Hill indicating that the Senate will likely await House action to construct its own appropriations package. In the meantime, please keep in mind that this week Members of Congress will be home in their districts and states for a Constituent Work Week, and we encourage you to invite your Members to your health center, participate in constituent events and find other opportunities to meet with Members and their District staff. As you interact with your Representatives and their staff, please remember to highlight the critical importance of health centers remaining level-funded at $2.19 billion. Remember, any cut to health centers’ discretionary funding jeopardizes the ability of health centers to reach 20 million new patients over the next five years, so it’s imperative that the Health Centers program remains whole.
Please stay tuned for updates from NACHC about requested grassroots action—you will be hearing from us in the coming week for more information regarding targeted advocacy with your Member of Congress.