One of the big benefits to the Affordable Care Act was the money designated for building new, updating old, revamping existing, and expanding the services of community health centers. For millions of Americans who don’t have a primary care doctor or live in a state that STILL refuses to expand Medicaid, these facilities bridge the gaps for everything from annual exams and vaccinations to mental health and HIV/AIDS care.
Like all good things, however, there’s no guarantee the money will continue to flow. Funding for these centers faces a 70% cut via what advocates are calling the Health Center Funding Cliff if action isn’t taken when Congress reconvenes next year.
WAIT — come back! It’s not as hopeless as it sounds to ask the House AND the Senate AND the Oval Office to agree on both an idea and the funding to follow through on that idea.
The Campaign for America’s Health Centers is planning ahead at SaveOurCHCS.org with information, petitions, a place to submit your personal story, mobile advocacy, voting resources and lobbying already underway. And — get ready — they have bipartisan support.
From their Facebook page:
Arkansas Representative John Boozman, Republican declares:
“The Community Health Center facilities in Arkansas play a vital role in providing patients a cost-effective option for health care in areas underserved by the medical community. We must provide these clinics with the resources they need to respond to the needs of their patients.”
And then there’s North Carolina Representative David Price, a Democrat:
“That’s why (Health Centers) have overwhelming, bipartisan support in Congress. I hope House Leadership hears our message loud and clear – investing in Community Health Centers is a top priority as we endeavor to expand access to high-quality healthcare.”
Even the so-far-to-the-right-we-don’t-know-how-he-hasn’t-fallen-over-the-edge governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant said that, though Medicaid needs to remain hard to get, his state should be putting more money into community health centers that serve low-income patients.
Clinicians agree: the Health Center Funding Cliff would be detrimental to affordable primary and long-term care:
If support spans party lines and state lines and has the backing of those directly involved in patient care, the only thing stopping the push to prevent the Health Center Funding Cliff is how super un-famous it is. Check out your community; see if there is a health center. Begin now to do something only YOU can: make the issue of access to affordable, reliable care within your network feel real to your friends and family. Bring the issue home and make it personal. Then, next year when Congress is in session and you’re tweeting, calling and writing your legislators, you can do so as a group — a powerful, real, live, hard to ignore group.
Get involved with Campaign for America’s Health Centers Save America’s Heath Centers Project
Access For All America via National Association of Community Health Centers
"Community Health Centers To Receive $295M in ACA Grants” via California Healthline
Hear the segment in context:
Episode #867 "Mind the coverage gap (Health Care)"
Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich