On Saturday, February 19th, the House of Representatives approved a Continuing Resolution (CR), H.R. 1 that cut $1.3 billion from the Health Centers Program and represents real and significant threat to keeping health center funding whole. These cuts threaten the 127 new ARRA funded health centers and jeopardize access to care to the 3.3 million new patients. The proposed bill would also halt the expansion of the cost-effective health center model for FY2011, meaning no funding for New Access Points, Expanded Services applications that have already been submitted would go unfunded, and communities seeking planning grants for health centers would not be awarded.
Be aware that the House passage of the CR is the first step in the process. The Senate and White House will have significant involvement in this process and for the House bill to become law, both chambers (House AND Senate) will ultimately need to pass the same bill.
While we can’t be sure how things will unfold over the next few weeks, we do know that NOW is the time to educate Senators and their staff about what these cuts would mean to your health center and community and to continue to advocate for level discretionary funding of $2.19 billion in FY2011.
What will cuts to Health Centers mean:
- The devastating $1.3 billion cut in H.R. 1 will mean that overall health centers will lose the capacity to serve 11 million patients in FY2011 alone.
- Within months, 127 new health centers that have opened in the last year and a half thanks to Recovery Act or stimulus funds will have to CLOSE THEIR DOORS.
- Well over 3.7 million patients who have received access to care in the last year and a half under the Recovery Act or stimulus New Access Point and Increased Demand for Services funding will LOSE ACCESS to care within months as a result of this cut.
- This cut will not only halt the expansion of the cost-effective, high-quality and patient-directed health center model of care, it will have real, devastating and virtually immediate impacts on existing health centers and the communities and patients they serve – pregnant women, children, those without health insurance due to the recession and recent unemployment and people with HIV/AIDS to name a few – will literally be left with nowhere to turn.
- Health centers will also be forced to lay off over 10,000 employees in the rural and urban underserved communities where they are located.
- This proposed cut comes at a time when states have to cut $89 million in financial support to health centers due to their budgetary crises.
Keeping health centers funding whole will:
- Ensure that health center funding accounts for the growth the program experienced in the past 18 months by adding 3.7 million patients, 127 new centers, and 10,000 new jobs;
- Allow HRSA to make awards for the new access point (NAP), expanded services (ES), and planning grant funding opportunities the agency previously announced; and
- Extend the cost-effective, high-quality and patient-directed model of care to patients who currently lack a routine source of primary care and would otherwise seek care in emergency departments or delay care until hospitalization is the only option.
- Decades of research have shown that health centers RETURN money to the health care system, including the nation’s entitlement programs. Investing in health centers increases that return on investment.
I understand that both the House and Senate are working to negotiate and pass a final funding bill for FY11. As you consider this funding bill please make sure that there are NO CUTS to Health Center funding. Any cut to the Health Centers Program will have an immediate and devastating impact on my health center, our patients, and our community.
It is critical that the Health Centers program’s discretionary funding remain whole in order for our local health center to continue providing access to cost-effective and high-quality care to those most in need. When patients go without access to cost-effective primary and preventive care through a health center, they instead seek care in high-cost settings like hospital emergency rooms or face unnecessary hospitalizations. Health centers have proven over their history that they save the health system money: on average $1200 per patient per year. Investing in health centers makes good fiscal sense and for that reason, support for the Health Centers program has been bipartisan over its long history.
I am counting on your support. Please vocally OPPOSE any cuts to Health Center funding and make sure that the Health Centers program discretionary is funding is kept at $2.19 billion in FY2011.