Over 100 House Republicans call for health center funding

Over 100 House Republicans call for health center funding
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More than 100 House Republicans are calling on Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? The Pelosi administration It's not populism that's killing America's democracy MORE (R-Wis.) to quickly reauthorize a pot of money crucial to community health centers, which service millions of the nation’s most vulnerable.

In a letter sent Friday, 105 Republicans, led by Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikLawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Hispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements Congress tiptoes toward remote voting MORE (R-N.Y.), expressed their concern over the fact that long-term funding for community health centers lapsed Sept. 30 — and urged its reauthorization in the “next moving piece of legislation to be signed into law.”

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Lawmakers are racing to pass another short-term spending bill this week. Community health center advocates are anxiously awaiting word on whether it will include a reauthorization of federal funding for the centers.

“We know you are a strong supporter of community health centers,” the lawmakers wrote to Ryan, “and we share your concern about the disruptions they are currently facing as a result of going over the so-called ‘funding cliff’ at the end of September 2017.”

At the GOP policy retreat Friday, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards | Controversial Keystone XL construction to proceed | Pressure mounts to close national parks amid pandemic Infrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Critics blast Trump mileage rollback, citing environment and health concerns MORE (R-Ore.) told The Hill that GOP leaders are looking to attach two years of funding for community health centers to a short-term spending bill needed to keep the government’s lights on past Feb. 8.

But, Walden cautioned that details are still being ironed out. Rank-and-file House Republicans are expected to hear a pitch from GOP leaders Monday night on the stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

On Sept. 30, a fund comprising 70 percent of federal dollars for community health centers expired. Health centers typically have garnered bipartisan support, and the fund was created as a noncontroversial part of the Affordable Care Act. It was reauthorized in 2015 for a total of $7.2 billion over two years.

Before lawmakers left Washington, D.C., for the holidays, they passed a short-term spending bill that included $550 million for these centers through March 31.

But the uncertainty over when permanent funding will come has had an impact.

About 20 percent of centers have instituted hiring freezes, a quarter have cancelled or delayed a renovation or expansion project and 4 percent have laid off staff, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released Thursday.