Health Center Federal Policy

Health Centers’ Role In Health Reform Will Be Debated This Week!

By John Sawyer


At long last, the fifth and final Committee with jurisdiction over health care reform, the Senate Finance Committee, will begin consideration of its version of legislation tomorrow at 9AM.  It’s fair to say that the Committee’s members are not going along quietly with the plan, which was released in detail last week by Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT).  Between the release of the bill last Wednesday and the deadline last Friday for filing amendments, the Committee’s members filed 564 of them.

Three of those amendments – known as Menendez C3, Bingaman D6, and Stabenow C5 (and offered by Health Center Champion Senators of the same names!) – could help shape the role that health centers play in a newly reformed health care system:

These crucial amendments focus on issues related to payment and participation requirements for health centers in the new insurance “exchanges”, as well as on fixing our longstanding issues with capped Medicare reimbursement.  Here’s the one-line description for each, a more detailed one-pager on these three amendments is available at the NACHC Health Reform Hub.

  • Menendez Amendment C3 would ensure that FQHCs would not lose revenue when treating newly insured patients gaining coverage through the new health insurance exchanges.
  • Bingaman Amendment D6 would establish a new prospective payment system (PPS) for Medicare services furnished by FQHCs, similar to the successful PPS reimbursement system for health centers under Medicaid.
  • Stabenow Amendment C5 would ensure that safety-net providers, including health centers, are included in insurance plans participating in the new health insurance exchanges.

Action alerts are going out today to health center advocates whose Senators sit on the Finance Committee, requesting their support – but with 561 other issues on their plates this week, it’ll take some fierce, direct, and persistent advocacy to get our message across.