by Krystal E. Knight, MPH
Though a final FY 2011 spending bill has yet to pass Congress, the FY 2012 appropriations process is currently underway, marked by President Obama’s release of his FY 2012 Budget request on Monday, February 14, 2011. In his Budget, President Obama proposes a 5-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending, which the White House announced will save $400 billion over 10 years.
The President’s FY 2012 Budget proposes $2.12 billion ($2.118 billion) for the Health Centers program, which includes $96 million for the health center Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) judgment fund (an increase of $52 million above the FY 2010-enacted level).
As you all are aware, health centers received approximately $2.19 billion ($2.185 billion) in discretionary funding in FY 2010. While the President’s Budget request for discretionary funding in FY 2012 is $67 million below what health centers received in FY 2010, when coupled with funding from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the Community Health Center Fund, the President’s FY 2012 request translates to $133 million increase for the Health Centers program, with a fully funded FTCA fund. The President’s Budget request rejects the $1.3 billion cut to the Health Centers program included as part of the House’s FY2011 Continuing Resolution (CR) legislation, H.R. 1 (relative to the President’s FY2011 request and $1.0 billion below the FY2010-enacted level) . In contrast to the House-passed H.R. 1, the President’s Budget would allow health centers that received a New Access Point (NAP) or Increased Demand for Services (IDS) grant to continue these operations in FY 2012. It would also provide for expansion of the cost-effective, high-quality and patient-directed health center model to new communities and patients.
Capitol Hill is paying a great deal of attention to government spending both in FY 2012 and for the remaining months of FY 2011. In this climate where every discretionary program is vulnerable to substantial funding cuts, it is important for health centers to continue to highlight health centers’ cost-effective and high-quality care they provide to 20 million underserved patients across America. NACHC is pleased that the President’s FY 2012 Budget recognizes the critical primary and preventive health care services health centers offer to existing patients and opportunity to serve new patients who would otherwise lack access to routine care. We will continue to advocate for level funding of the Health Centers program at $2.19 billion in FY 2011 and FY 2012. This level of funding is necessary in order for health centers to reach 20 million new, underserved patients by 2015, and health centers everywhere should continue to make the case for level funding. For more information on advocacy steps to take now, visit our advocacy blog, and stay tuned to Health Centers on the Hill.