Health Center Federal Policy

Funding for Health Centers Upheld in Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act

by Abby Pinkele

Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a critical one for health center funding.  If the Affordable Care Act had been repealed, health centers would have faced a severe funding shortfall requiring Congressional intervention to ensure health centers would be able to maintain their current operations. Fortunately, the Court’s ruling ensures health center funding under the ACA will continue.

Health centers currently have two funding streams- one is discretionary from Congress decided on an annual basis and the other is mandatory from the Health Center Fund of the ACA. For FY 2012, health centers were allocated $1.6 billion in discretionary funding and $1.2 billion in mandatory under the Health Center Fund. Therefore, the current total funding level for the Health Centers program as of FY12 is $2.8 billion, meaning that is the minimum total funding needed to keep the all existing health centers,  including recently awarded NAPs, open and operational and at current service levels.

In FY 2013, health centers will receive $1.5 billion in funding from the Health Center Trust Fund. The discretionary portion has not been finalized, but the Senate LHHS appropriations bill proposes $1.6 billion in discretionary funding for FY2013, in total this would equal $3.1 billion or a $300 million increase. A more detailed description can be viewed on our previous appropriations blog here.

If the ACA had been repealed, the Health Center Fund would be eliminated. This would have required Congress to enact an emergency fix providing $1.2 billion, the difference between our current discretionary allocation from FY12 ($1.6 billion), and current operations ($2.8 billion, which is currently made up of $1.2 billion in mandatory ACA funding) in order to avoid disruption of services. The affirmation of the ACA by the Court ensures the Health Center Fund will continue to provide funding for health centers until 2015, absent legislative action.