Since our posting last week, the House Appropriations Committee released guidelines for Members who wish to convey their support of programs funded through the Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS)-Education Subcommittee. House Members have until Friday, May 20th to submit programmatic requests; however, it’s worth noting that House Members will be back home in their Districts the week of May 16th – in the days leading up to the deadline – though Members can still submit program requests while on recess.
Appropriations Committee consideration of a Labor-HHS-Education FY2012 bill will likely occur sometime in June or July. We expect to learn later this week what the top-line spending level, or 302(b) allocation, will be for this Subcommittee. We do know the Budget resolution passed by the House last month, which will be the guide in setting top-line levels for Labor-HHS-Education and other Subcommittees, would reduce discretionary spending by $31 billion from the FY2011 level. This represents a $69.5 billion cumulative reduction from the FY2010 level – cuts deeper than those proposed in H.R. 1. The Senate has not yet released instructions for submission of programmatic requests. Nor has the Senate considered a Budget resolution, though Committee consideration may occur this week.
This year, given the very short turnaround time in the House and shift in the Appropriations process in recent years to place more emphasis on request submissions directly from Member offices, grassroots advocates should ask their individual Representatives to submit a programmatic request for the Health Centers program – ideally at the $1.79 billion discretionary funding level NACHC is recommending. This funding level represents a $200 million increase in discretionary funding over FY2011 and a total programmatic increase of $400 million (when the Community Health Center Fund from the Affordable Care Act is included). We believe $1.79 billion in discretionary funding is necessary to allow Health Centers to meet the existing and persistent need of Americans seeking primary and preventive care services. This funding level will:
-Extend cost-effective primary and preventive health care to over 3 million Americans;
-Bring a Health Center to approximately 200 new communities, including those with pending application submissions; and
-Build on existing Health Center capacity through extended hours of operation; the hire of additional providers; and the availability of new medical, oral, behavioral, pharmacy, or vision health services.
NACHC staff continues to meet with House and Senate offices to build support for the Health Centers program in FY2012 and specifically, to garner bipartisan support for continuing the health center expansion that began a decade ago. We ask for all advocates help in generating as many individual programmatic requests as possible!