by Krystal E. Knight, MPH
By now I’m sure many of you are already aware of the bill the House Appropriations Committee produced last Friday, which cuts $100 billion from federal programs in the remaining months of FY 2011 as compared to the President’s budget proposal. The bill includes a $1.3 billion cut from the Health Centers program proposed FY2011 level and a $174 million cut from the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), which eliminates all discretionary funding for NHSC.
These cuts, if enacted, would have a deep, lasting impact on health centers across the country (for a chart of the immediate impact of this cut by state, please visit the NACHC website). Specifically:
- Funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Increased Demand for Services (IDS) grants would be ENDED and centers would lose the ability to continue to care for the 3.3 million patients they have added with these funds.
- New Access Point (NAP) grantees funded under ARRA would be CLOSED.
- Expanded Services (ES) and New Access Point (NAP) competitions announced late last year would NOT BE FUNDED.
Because there would be no opportunity for growth, health centers would lose the capacity to serve 11 million patients this year alone!
NACHC understands that the House will begin consideration of the Appropriations bill tomorrow. As we explained in our companion post, once the bill is on the floor, Members of the full House of Representatives will be able to offer amendments to the bill under an “open rule.” If any of the amendments offered through the “open rule” process stand to affect health centers, NACHC will ask health center advocates to contact their Members and urge them to take action on these amendments. The Senate will likely prepare its own bill for consideration, forcing a “Conference,” or period of negotiation between the two chambers. The White House will also be involved, working to promote the Administration’s priorities.
It is imperative that both Republican and Democrat Members of the full House hear from health center supporters this week. Your calls and emails will help your Member understand the alarming effects of a cut of this magnitude to health centers within his or her district and across the country. Remember the House vote is the first stage in this process: there will be a Senate bill and a Conference between the House and Senate with White House involvement. This is why is it is so important for you to weigh in with your Member now – so they can take your perspective into consideration as the House votes this week and as the House works with the White House and Senate to reach final consensus on an Appropriations bill. To join the advocacy effort and get more information, please visit this post, and be sure to stay tuned to Health Centers on the Hill for updates.