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House to fund community health centers in short-term spending bill

House to fund community health centers in short-term spending bill
© Greg Nash

Community health centers will be funded for two years in a short-term spending measure the House plans to offer this week, Republicans say.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenVulnerable Republicans throw ‘Hail Mary’ on pre-existing conditions GOP senator wants Apple, Amazon to give briefing on reported Super Micro hack Overnight Health Care: Bill banning 'gag clauses' on drugs heads to Trump's desk | Romney opposes Utah Medicaid expansion | GOP candidate under fire over ad on pre-existing conditions MORE (R-Ore.) confirmed Monday night that the funds will be included, telling reporters there would be "two years, full funding," for the health centers. 

Walden said the several billions of dollars in spending would be paid for, but did not specify how. He said that a range of expiring health-care programs would also be extended in the bill, such as a program for diabetes research. 

Walden told The Hill last week at the GOP’s retreat in West Virginia that leaders “hope to” add the funds to the continuing resolution needed to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this week.

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The community health centers have been left in limbo for months awaiting an extension of their funding. Both parties generally support the centers, but the debate has been caught up in broader budget battles. 

Community health centers serve about 27 million people across the country, many of whom are poor or lack insurance. 

Due to the funding uncertainty, about 20 percent of the centers have implemented hiring freezes, a quarter have cancelled or delayed a renovation or expansion and 4 percent have laid off staff, according to a Thursday Kaiser Family Foundation report.

The fate of the broader spending bill in the Senate is unclear, given that Democrats in that chamber object to a full year of defense funding while other areas of government only get short-term funds.