by Kaitlin McColgan
So, as if there isn’t enough going on in Congress with health reform to keep health center advocates busy, along comes the “Jobs Bill!”
As many of you have heard by now, Congress is currently drafting legislation to further stimulate the economy and produce jobs quickly. The House of Representatives passed their version of the bill before leaving town for the holidays; it included approximately $49 billion in infrastructure projects, $27 billion for public service jobs (including $200 million for Americorps), and other emergency relief such as an extension of enhanced FMAP through June 2011.
The Senate, however, is still putting together their Jobs Bill, and health centers have an opportunity to advocate for an additional $2 billion in Facility Investment Program or FIP funding. This funding could allow HRSA to go back the pile of high-scoring, but unfunded, FIP projects already submitted and instantly make new awards. These awards would create short-term construction jobs as well as permanent health center jobs and improved health access.
While health reform continues to be NACHC’s and health center advocates’ top priority in the days and weeks ahead, this rare opportunity to secure additional capital funding for health centers is something that many advocates will want to speak to their Senators about. For this reason, NACHC has created a grassroots alert on FIP and the Jobs bill that you can access by clicking here.
Our best information is that the Jobs Bill will not be taken up in the Senate until January. However, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) are working on putting together the legislation right now. If your health center has an application in the FIP pile, and you would like it to have a chance to get funded, you should use our alert to make a call to your senator, and let them know you’d like them to communicate their support to these lead senators for health centers’ construction funding in the Jobs bill.
As always, stay tuned to the Hotline and other NACHC communications for the latest info in the weeks to come!