The Community Health Center (CHC) program serves people at nearly 10,000 nonprofit clinics nationwide, almost all of which are in low-income rural and urban areas.
Kaiser Health News reports Congress has allocated $3.6 billion annually to the health centers in recent years. That is about 20 percent of the centers’ budgets—much of the rest comes in reimbursements for services. The health center advocates and directors say the money is critical to providing services not always covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance, including mental health and substance abuse care, transportation and in-home visits. CHC’s , which include Federally Qualified Health Centers, provide care for about 27 million people in the US.
When lawmakers funded, for six years, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Congress was expected to renew long-term funding for the centers. One in 10 kids covered under CHIP gets most of their care at a community health center.
But that agreement didn’t deal with the centers. Although federal money for the centers ran out on Oct. 1, a previous budget patch provided temporary funds through March 31.
Carmela Castellano-Garcia, CEO of the California Primary Care Association said:
We are caught up in Washington’s political dysfunction. These centers are a lifeline for millions of people, especially in rural areas where they may be the only health care provider for miles around.
Read about the debate in Congress and the effects on rural areas in Kaiser Health News