The 2015 NACHC Policy and Issues Forum has kicked off with over 2,500 health center advocates descending on Washington, D.C. to press their leaders in Congress for a solution to the health center funding cliff. As we’ve written before, much of health centers’ success for the past five decades has depended on consistent federal support, and a major source of federal funding is set to expire on Oct. 1, 2015. Every health center will be affected with a federal funding cut of up to 70 percent. Health center advocates from all corners of the country will go to Capitol Hill and meet with their Members of Congress and describe how their health center will be affected, whether it is a site closure, staff lay offs, or a reduction of services.
Health center advocates also participated in a news conference [watch live stream recording] where NACHC released a report with news estimates would cause 7.4 million patients to lose access to care at their local health center, and nearly 57,000 clinicians and staff to lose their jobs.
Gary Wiltz, MD, NACHC’s board chair and a physician with Teche Action Clinic, in Franklin, LA, described the funding cliff as the “the cruelest cut of all.. to have that access [to care] and then have that taken from you.”
Also at the news conference was patient Yvonne Davis, who is also a board chair of Health Care Partners of South Carolina, Inc., in Conway, S.C. “When you talk about cutting the funding for Community Health Centers, that’s just almost unheard of. That can’t happen. Community Health Centers give communities like mine and others hope. And we have to keep hope alive for all,” she said.
Already the media is taking notice of the NACHC report, with headlines in U.S. News and World Report, and California Healthline, and the Washington Examiner. But the real audience that counts for health centers are the lawmakers who will decide a large portion their funding future. As the NACHC P & I conference gets underway, state delegations of health center patients, board members, clinicians and professionals are readying their fact sheets and messages to take to Capitol Hill.
Stay tuned to this blog as we keep you updated on #NACHCPI15.