Submitted on Wed, 2015-03-25
By SMART Health Claims

Without an act of Congress, the Health Center Fund will expire on September 30, 2015 forcing health centers in 9,200 rural and urban underserved communities to reduce services, layoff staff, and possibly close their doors.

Health Center Funding Crisis: 7.4 Million Americans to Lose Healthcare Access, 5
7.4 million Americans will lose access to healthcare services when the Health Center Fund expires in October according to a report by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). Known as the Funding Cliff, Heath Centers across the country face a 70% cut in congressional funding that would result in layoffs for more than 57,000 clinicians and staff.
This ominous report was released as the organization celebrates the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of the first health centers in Boston and Mississippi as commissioned by President Lyndon Johnson. In 2015, more than 28 million patients will be served in one of the 1,300 health centers.
“The cruelest cut of all is to have access and to see it taken away,” said Gary Wiltz, M.D., Executive Director/Clinical Director, Teche Action Clinic, Franklin, La. “These people now have a healthcare home. We cannot absorb that type of cut.”
The Funding Cliff refers to the Health Center Fund set to expire at the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30, 2015. Created in 2009, the fund infused $9.5 billion dollars in operational funding and $1.5 billion dollars in capital support to health centers nationwide. It was cut by $600 million annually in 2011 and then cut further as part of sequestration. Without an act of Congress, health centers in 9,200 rural and urban underserved communities will be forced to reduce services, layoff staff, and possibly close their doors.

“The cruelest cut of all is to have access and to see it taken away”

The report demonstrates how health centers are vital to more than just the physical health of their communities. Health centers generate more than $26.5 billion in jobs for distressed communities as well as generate $24 billion in savings to the healthcare system. They are proven to meet or exceed the health outcomes of other primary healthcare providers and are more accessible for patients that are new, uninsured or that have Medicaid.
“This is a story about keeping America strong,” stated Henry Taylor, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mile Square Health Center, Chicago, Il. “Community health centers are a beacon in the communities we represent. We need your help to continue America’s dream.”
The funding cuts are far reaching and compound over time. By 2020, 9.8 million fewer patients would be served, and 82,000 jobs would be unstaffed. The Department of Health and Human Services projects that more than 2,000 health center sites would close.
The NACHC urges everyone to join their fight to provide affordable access to healthcare for the next 50 years. Bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, as well as more than 100 national organizations, have called for action to address the health center funding cliff. Learn how you can get involved by visiting and following #CHC50 on Twitter.

This is a story about keeping America strong. We need your help to continue America’s dream.

You can view the NACHC report, Community Health Centers Past, Present, and Future: Building on 50 Years of Success here.
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