by Kaitlin McColgan
As many of you may have heard by now, Friday, the House Subcommittee on Labor-HHS Appropriations voted to send the FY2010 Appropriations bill to full committee and the bill provides no new funding for the Health Centers program. Committee staff have indicated that because the Subcommittee received an overall funding allocation amounting to less than the President’s budget request, they were forced to cut a number of programs and level fund others, like Health Centers, that received Recovery Act (ARRA) dollars.
As for next steps, the bill will be considered by the full Appropriations Committee this coming Friday, and will be on the House floor possibly later this month. The Senate Subcommittee on Labor-HHS Appropriations is expected to take up its FY2010 bill towards the end of the month as well.
A number of folks have inquired what this funding level will mean to health centers if it becomes law (which is still a ways off). The answer is that while health centers would still have some of their ARRA funds through FY2010 since it is two year money, there would be no new funding for health centers until FY2011 at the earliest if this level funding becomes law. This would mean no base grant adjustments, expanded medical capacity grants, or dental, mental health, or pharmacy grants. There would also be no new opportunities to apply for new access points for all of 2010.
While disappointing, this is not the final word in the Appropriations process. Health Centers will continue to work to secure an increase in the Senate Labor-HHS bill, and in whatever bill becomes law at the end of the day.