by Krystal E. Knight, MPH
Since our last appropriations update, some major events have affected the mood here in Washington: the 112th Congress got underway, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was injured and six others killed in a horrible attack, and the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the midst of all these happenings, our appropriations advocacy efforts in both the House and the Senate are now beginning to gear-up significantly.
You may remember that federal programs are currently being funded under a Continuing Resolution (CR) through March 4, 2011. Before the CR expires, both the House and Senate will need to either extend the current CR or pass a spending bill that sets funding levels for all programs through the remainder of FY 2011. In addition, the President’s 2012 Budget is scheduled to be released Monday, February 14, 2011, signaling the need for Congress to complete FY 2011 appropriations in order to get the FY 2012 appropriations process underway.
NACHC continues to make the case for level funding of the Health Centers program at $2.19 billion in FY 2011, even as Congress, in particular the new House majority, undertakes efforts to reduce federal spending. Specifically, last week the House Rules Committee met to consider H.Res.38, which directs the House Budget Committee Chairman to set non-security spending for the remainder of FY 2011 at 2008 levels or less (a funding cut of approximately $80 billion). Additionally, the House Republican Study Committee released the Spending Reduction Act of 2011. The “Act,” which has not yet been introduced as a bill, is a summary of what this subgroup of the House Republican Conference aims to accomplish in the next few years, including reducing non-defense discretionary spending to 2006 levels. Every discretionary program, including the Health Centers program, is at risk for funding cuts going forward. However, we are making the case that it is imperative that health centers receive at least level funding of $2.19 billion in FY 2011, which will allow for continuing the expansion of the cost-effective, high-quality health center model of care to 20 million new patients by 2015. Amongst other things, we’ll be highlighting that continuing the health center expansion will produce a significant return on investment, including $122 billion in savings over a 5 year period.
NACHC is gearing up its appropriations advocacy efforts in both the House and the Senate over the next several weeks. This week, NACHC will be meeting with members of the Appropriations Committees in both the House and Senate, specifically with those who are members of the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittees, the Subcommittees with jurisdiction over funding for the Health Centers program. Health centers should raise the importance of level funding for the Health Centers program with any Members (or staff of Members) they meet in the coming weeks. Please stay tuned for updates from NACHC about requested grassroots action and follow Health Centers on the Hill for more!