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) HassanCongress needs to prioritize government digital service delivery Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Hillicon Valley: Feds warn hackers targeting critical infrastructure | Twitter exploring subscription service | Bill would give DHS cyber agency subpoena power MORE (D) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate Democrats introduce bill to sanction Russians over Taliban bounties Trump-backed candidate wins NH GOP Senate primary to take on Shaheen Democratic senator urges Trump to respond to Russian aggression MORE (D) and Vermont Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyBattle over timing complicates Democratic shutdown strategy Hillicon Valley: Russia 'amplifying' concerns around mail-in voting to undermine election | Facebook and Twitter take steps to limit Trump remarks on voting | Facebook to block political ads ahead of election Top Democrats press Trump to sanction Russian individuals over 2020 election interference efforts MORE (D) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 Biden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? McConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security MORE (I) sent a letter Friday to both Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor Ginsburg Ginsburg in statement before her death said she wished not to be replaced until next president is sworn in Democrats call for NRA Foundation to be prohibited from receiving donations from federal employees MORE (D-N.Y.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy 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.