Krystal E. Knight, MPH
More good news for the Health Centers program from the Senate!
On Tuesday the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee on Appropriations marked-up the draft of its annual spending bill (comparable to the spending bill marked up in the House of Representatives two weeks ago). Yesterday at 2:30 PM, that Subcommittee bill was brought before the full Senate Committee on Appropriations. The Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee proposed, and the full Committee approved, discretionary funding for the Health Centers program at last year’s comparable level. In combination with the $1 billion in dedicated funding from the Health Center Fund in the health reform law, the total Health Centers program funding for FY2011 would be $3.185 billion in FY 2011, a $1 billion increase!
Now that both the House and Senate are in agreement on maintaining our discretionary funding at the FY2010 funding level, we will have to work to keep this level throughout the rest of the appropriations process this year. As I mentioned in my last post, the $2.19 billion discretionary funding level, coupled with the $11 billion Community Health Center Fund passed as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will serve to dramatically increase the capacity of the Health Centers program. Over the next five years, the Health Center Fund, along with insurance expansions and other provisions part of the ACA, will double the size of the Health Centers program from 20 million patients to 40 million patients, resulting in the largest expansion of the program to date. Health centers will be the primary care access point for millions of newly insured Americans and will continue to provide high quality, cost-effective health care to the medically underserved.
NACHC will continue to stay abreast of the appropriations process moving forward and work hard to maintain the funding we have secured up to this point. Again, thanks to all of the NACHC grassroots advocates who played a role in this effort.