The 2500 advocates who gathered at the 2015 NACHC Policy and Issues Forum have long gone home, but they are still burning up the phone lines and writing their leaders in Congress about the importance of fixing the health center funding cliff. Even though the solution lies with lawmakers, the impact of the funding cliff — which means a federal funding cut of up to 70 percent — will be broadly felt beyond the beltway. Local news outlets are paying attention about how health centers and patients in their community will be affected. A case in point is the Fort Bend Star News in Texas, which noted that “local Community Health Center, AccessHealth, served over 16,000 patients last year, with primary care, pediatric care, behavioral health and HIV care, as well as dental services. If this 70% reduction of funds takes place, AccessHealth stands to lose as much as $875,000 from its annual budget. AccessHealth has been in existence for 39 years and the Fort Bend community depends on AccessHealth, (formerly Fort Bend Family Health Center), to meet the needs of those uninsured and underinsured.”
The Detroit News also put a spotlight on the funding cliff issue in a recent article that described how Michigan’s 35 health centers and their patients — many of them living in rural areas — would be hard hit:
“Michigan’s Community Health Centers serve nearly 700,000 people, and the funding cliff puts many Michigan families at risk of losing access to their physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists and other health providers,” said Kim Sibilsky, CEO of the Michigan Primary Care Association told the reporter. “This puts their health at risk, but also the health of the communities in which they live and work.”
Local coverage about the funding cliff has stretched from Watertown, NY, [see article in Watertown Daily Times, Stefanik Spotlights Funding Cliff at Coffee Klatch] to Billings, MT, [see article, KTVQ.com, “Riverstone Health Faces Funding Cliff“], but there have also been alarm bells raised by two high profile leaders in Washington.
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D), founder of the Daschle Group, and former Governor Michael Leavitt (R) jointly penned a call to action in an op-ed published in The Hill last week, writing,
“The 114th Congress took office last month with a pledge to find solutions that work, and to work across the aisle to get things done for the American people. In the health care arena, investing in access to primary care through Community Health Centers is a logical, non-controversial, pragmatic and cost-saving solution. Congress should act without delay to see that Community Health Centers continue to serve those in need for the next 50 years.”
Stay tuned to this blog as we keep you updated on the developments related to the funding cliff.