Health Center News

House Leaders Shift Focus to Health Centers and Primary Care

Shasta Community Health Center CEO Dean Germano shakes hands with U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (TX) before the start of the Health Subcommittee Hearing.

As a deadline looms, House legislators have turned their attention towards an extension of critical funding for Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps, and Teaching Health Center program. Recently the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee hosted Shasta Community Health Center CEO Dean Germano, who testified in support of renewing these important programs. Germano’s testimony touched upon many issues associated with Congress’ failure to extend health center funding on time in September 2017, including difficulties recruiting NHSC applicants, denied bank loans and a hampered ability to expand patient services. Congress has roughly three months left to extend mandatory funding for these programs before the September 30, 2019 deadline and ensure access to primary care across the nation for the 28 million patients who depend on Community Health Centers.

In addition to several other bills before the Committee, the House Energy and Commerce hearing focused on three bills, H.R. 1943 and H.R. 2328 (which extend health center mandatory funding for five years, alongside the NHSC) and H.R. 2815, (which extends and expands the Teaching Health Center program). The focus comes on the heels of a flurry of legislative activity in Congress during the first six months of the year that signaled interest and support for providing long-term funding for health centers. Senate leaders have already taken similar steps by holding a hearing in support of health center funding in January 2019, and introducing legislation to provide five-years of funding for health centers, the National Health Service Corps, and Teaching Health Center program (S. 106, S. 192, S. 962, and S. 304).    

While leaders in Congress continue to debate which of these bills to bring forward as a vehicle, there’s widespread agreement among Democrats and Republicans that the nation’s health centers need long-term, reliable, and dependable funding ‒ well before September 30th. NACHC continues to closely follow developments on Capitol Hill, and is committed to working with bipartisan leaders in Washington from both the House and Senate toward the goal of secure and long-term funding. Please reach out to federalaffairs@nachc.org with any additional questions and stay tuned to the NACHC blog for more updates.

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