by Anne Morris, MPH
On Friday, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) introduced H.J.Res. 48, another short-term spending bill extension that would keep government programs funded through Friday, April 8th. This Continuing Resolution (CR) cuts approximately $6 billion in spending and allows negotiations between the House, Senate, and Administration to continue on the longer-term FY2011 funding legislation. The $6 billion in funding cuts consists of $3.5 billion in program reductions or terminations and $2.6 billion in earmark cuts (from accounts that were automatically renewed in December). Importantly, both the Health Centers Program and National Health Service Corps would not be impacted by the funding cuts outlined in this CR.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on H.J.Res. 48 as early as tomorrow (Tuesday). Senate Majority Leader Reid has stated that he’s in agreement with House Republicans on the short-term CR and that it includes cuts previously proposed by Democrats. However, Leader Reid also clearly stated that while it’s important to avoid a government shutdown, he has concern about continuing to pursue short-term extensions rather than a long-term solution to FY2011 spending.
As we’ve said in our post last week, health center advocates need to continue their work to ensure that the final, long-term FY2011 CR – which has yet to be completed – keeps health centers’ discretionary funding whole.
This new three-week CR also means that health center advocates will likely be descending on DC for the Policy and Issues (P&I) Forum at precisely the time that the negotiations on the final funding bill may be reaching a key decision point. It will be incredibly helpful to health centers’ cause to have thousands of health center advocates making the case in-person with key congressional staff at this critical juncture.
In the meantime, we encourage you to continue to weigh in with your Senators and Representative on the importance of keeping the Health Center program’s discretionary funding at the FY2010 level of $2.19 billion. As you’ll remember, this funding level will:
- Ensure that health center funding accounts for the growth the program experienced in the past 18 months by adding 3.7 million patients, 127 new centers, and 10,000 new jobs (note that these updated figures are a result of new ARRA reporting figures recently released);
- Allow HRSA to make awards for the new access point (NAP), expanded services (ES), and planning grant funding opportunities the agency previously announced; and
- Extend the cost-effective, high-quality, and patient-directed health center model to patients who currently lack a routine source of primary care and would otherwise seek care in emergency departments or delay care until hospitalization is the only option.
Stay tuned to Health Centers on the Hill for the latest, and visit NACHC’s website for resources and information to assist in your advocacy efforts.