The following is a press release from an organization unaffiliated with Voice of OC. The views expressed here are not those of Voice of OC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2018
Isabel Becerra, firstname.lastname@example.org, 714-352-5990 ext. 224
Congress Failed to Reauthorize Health Center Funding
Health centers lose confidence in Congress and begin contingency plans
California – Right now, Orange County’s community health centers face a severe loss in funding if Congress fails to act. This inaction will limit access to essential health care services for hundreds of thousands of people. Emergency room visits will likely increase, costing our healthcare system billions of dollars.
On September 30, 2017, health centers were hopeful that Congress would come to a bipartisan agreement on health center funding before the end of the year, but that did not happen. Health Center funding has always had bi-partisan support and the Health Center Program was significantly expanded under the George W. Bush administration. Instead of renewed funding, a series of continued resolutions have been passed to maintain funding on a month to month basis with the current resolution set to expire on January 19, 2018. This instability is causing panic throughout health centers across the nation.
While members of Congress have given us reassurances that the health center program is a priority, many health centers are wary of their repeated promises. When asked, Isabel Becerra, CEO of the Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers, had this to say about the lack of commitment to fund health centers…
“Community health centers save the health care system over $24 billion annually by delivering the most cost effective quality healthcare to patients. Collectively health centers receive $3.5 billion a year. This $3.5 billion is the amount at stake. It becomes a simple math equation from here. Invest $3.5 billion in health centers and save the healthcare system an adjusted $20.5 billion a year.”
Congress must prioritize health center funding to stabilize the health care system. This funding accounts for 70 percent of a health center’s budget. The elimination of 70 percent of a health center’s funding will have an immediate and devastating impact on California communities as California’s health centers directly employ over 33,000 people, contribute $3.9 billion in spending and treat over 6.5 million people – that’s 1 in 6 Californians.
Each year health centers serve more and more patients in need of services. For instance, one Orange County health center serves over 12,000 patients yearly. Without this support from the federal government, they will lose nearly $1.8 million over the next year.
As a result of the lack action from Congress, uncertainty has caused health centers to postpone plans for expanding facilities and services. Instead contingency plans are being drawn up that include hiring freezes, eliminating services, and reducing the hours of operation.
Congress please act now and pass a permanent fix to health center funding.
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