Vermont, NH senators call for renewal of lapsed health center funding

Vermont, NH senators call for renewal of lapsed health center funding
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Vermont and New Hampshire’s senators are urging Senate leaders to work to pass legislation funding community health centers after a major source of their federal dollars lapsed Sept. 30.

Community health centers are a large source of comprehensive primary care for some of the nation’s most vulnerable, serving 27 million people. They take any patient who walks in their doors, regardless of if they have insurance, and Congress let a fund expire that represents 70 percent of their federal grant revenue.

Requesting speedy funding and a bipartisan approach, New Hampshire Sens. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanSenate panel spars with Trump administration over treatment of unaccompanied immigrant children Dem senators introduce resolution calling on Trump to stop attacking the press Senators blast Michigan State president's handling of sex abuse scandal MORE (D) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBusinesses fear blowback from Russia sanctions bill Hillicon Valley: Trump officials deliver show of force on election security | Apple hits trillion | How fake Facebook groups manipulated real activists | Senate group seeks new Russia sanctions Senators introduce bill to slap 'crushing' new sanctions on Russia MORE (D) and Vermont Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate returns to work on toughest 'minibus' yet GOP senator: Trump is ‘the only one in the government’ not paying attention to Russian threat to midterms Hillicon Valley: 'QAnon' conspiracy theory jumps to primetime | Senate Intel broadens look into social media manipulation | Senate rejects push for more election security funds | Reddit reveals hack MORE (D) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersPollster: Despite flashy headline, Dems haven't become more supportive of socialism Pollster: Dem party 'rift' won't carry on to midterms Pelosi sees defections from an unusual quarter — the left MORE (I) sent a letter Friday to both Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerReforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' Senate Democrats should stop playing politics on Kavanaugh MORE (D-N.Y.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work Reforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain Name change eludes DHS cyber wing, spurring frustration MORE (R-Ky.).

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“We write to express our serious concerns about the expiration of funding for [Health Resources and Services Administration]’s Health Center Program more than two months ago,” the four wrote. “Congress’ failure to extend this funding has caused service disruptions for the 22 community health centers and their many patients across New Hampshire and Vermont.”

The centers, which are generally supported by both parties, haven’t seen their funding drop yet, but those with grant periods wrapping up at the end of the year — about 25 percent — would be impacted if Congress doesn’t renew the funds. The Health Resources and Services Administration plans to help out as long as it can on a prorated basis using available fiscal 2018 discretionary dollars and remaining mandatory funds, a spokesperson said.

The senators pointed to the impact the uncertainty is already having, with centers halting renovation or expansion projects, instituting hiring freezes, delaying the launch of new medical services and having trouble retaining existing and recruiting new staff.

The four lawmakers noted the particular impact on rural communities, where community health centers “are often the only healthcare facilities for many miles, and in urban areas, they often provide services tailored to underserved populations.”

The senators also called on lawmakers to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program and other health programs that had Sept. 30 funding lapses.