Senators Stabenow and Wicker Lead Bipartisan Group of 60 Senators Urging Support for Community Health CentersMonday, March 30, 2015
U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), along with 58 other Senators, urged support for community health centers, which could have their funding cut by nearly 70 percent in September. In a letter to U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), the bipartisan group of 60 Senators requested continued funding from the appropriators, explaining that the potential mandatory cuts at the end of this fiscal year could result in site closures and prevent millions of people in high-need communities from accessing cost-effective, primary care services.
The letter reads in part: "We are concerned about the scheduled expiration of the Health Center Fund at the end of this fiscal year, which would put Health Centers around the country at risk of a reduction or interruption of services, and we encourage you to work with us to ensure the fiscal sustainability of the health center program. Without access to primary care, many people, including the chronically ill, delay seeking health care until they are seriously ill and require inpatient hospitalization or care at an emergency room at a much higher cost to the entire health-care system."
Health centers serve as the health care home for nearly 600,000 Michigan residents in 200 clinics across the state. In Mississippi, where the first rural community health center opened half a century ago, over 300,000 patients are served annually at 170 delivery sites.
The full text of the letter follows:
Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray,
We would like to thank the Subcommittee for your continued support and recognition of Health Centers as a long-standing bipartisan solution to the primary care access shortage facing our country. During the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Appropriations process, we respectfully request that the Subcommittee continue to recognize Health Centers as providers of high quality, cost-effective primary care and that you work to ensure their continued sustainability and viability in the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies legislation.
This year marks fifty years since the first Health Centers opened their doors. Since the inception of the program, Health Centers have worked to provide primary care and a variety of support and medical services, such as dental and behavioral care, to America's most vulnerable patients and communities. Today, nearly 1,300 health center organizations serve more than 9,000 urban and rural communities nationwide. Health Centers are the health-care home for more than 23 million patients, including nearly seven million children and more than 268,000 veterans. These centers employ more than 156,000 Americans, and generate an economic impact and overall cost savings of over $24 billion.
America's Health Centers have continually proven to be a worthwhile investment by meeting the nation's growing demands for quality and affordable health care. We are concerned about the scheduled expiration of the Health Center Fund at the end of this fiscal year, which would put Health Centers around the country at risk of a reduction or interruption of services, and we encourage you to work with us to ensure the fiscal sustainability of the health center program. Without access to primary care, many people, including the chronically ill, delay seeking health care until they are seriously ill and require inpatient hospitalization or care at an emergency room at a much higher cost to the entire health-care system.
As Congress works to improve access to care and reduce health-care expenditures, we urge the Subcommittee to support Health Centers, allowing them to continue to provide cost-effective primary care. Thank you for your continued support of the vital role Health Centers play in preserving and expanding access to care in the communities they serve.
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Richard Burr (R-NC) Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA) Jon Tester (D-MT)
Mark Kirk (R-IL) Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
John Cornyn (R-TX) Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
Chris Coons (D-DE) John Hoeven (R-ND)
Deb Fischer (R-NE) Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Mark Warner (D-VA) Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Angus King (I-ME)
Martin Heinrich (D-NM) Al Franken (D-MN)
Michael Bennet (D-CO) Tim Kaine (D-VA)
David Perdue (R-GA) Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Ron Wyden (D-OR) James Risch (R-ID)
Richard Durbin (D-IL) Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Tom Udall (D-NM) Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Christopher Murphy (D-CT) Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) Joe Manchin III (D-WV)
Cory Booker (D-NJ) Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Gary Peters (D-MI) Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Jack Reed (D-RI) Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Tom Carper (D-DE) Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
Susan Collins (R-ME) James Inhofe (R-OK)
Bernard Sanders (I-VT) Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA) Edward Markey (D-MA)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Marco Rubio (R-FL) Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Steve Daines (R-MT) Michael Enzi (R-WY)
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