Bipartisan lawmakers urge health center funding reauthorization

Bipartisan lawmakers urge health center funding reauthorization
© Getty Images

A bipartisan group of more than 150 lawmakers is calling for Congress to reauthorize critical funding for community health centers, which care for some of the nation’s most vulnerable patients.

A noncontroversial part of ObamaCare was the creation of a special trust fund for community health centers, which serve more than 25 million people regardless of their ability to pay for their medical services. The money accounts for 70 percent of federal grant funding for community health centers, and the dollars — reauthorized in 2015 — expired at the end of September.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We understand that community health centers across the country are already facing disruptions as a result of going over the so-called ‘funding cliff’ at the end of September, and we urge you to work with Republicans and Democrats in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize this critical program for five years,” the House members wrote in a letter sent to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year MORE (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The letter noted that the Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that, without the fund’s renewal, about 2,800 health center sites would close, “endangering the health care of about 9 million patients.”

The five bipartisan leaders of the letter also have a standalone measure that would reauthorize the fund for five years, providing steady increases each year. The House Energy and Commerce Committee also passed a measure to extend funding for two years.

On the other side of the Capitol, Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP senators eager for Romney to join them Senate GOP wary of ending Russia probes, despite pressure GOP on precipice of major end-of-year tax victory MORE (R-Mo.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump Prominent Michigan Republican drops out of Senate primary GOP chairman shoots down Democrat effort to delay tax work until Jones is seated MORE (D-Mich.) have introduced a standalone bill to reauthorize funding for community health centers for five years. The measure isn’t attached to a bill to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program; in the Senate, these two programs aren’t in the same committee’s jurisdiction.