Skip to content

Senator Hassan Leads Colleagues In Calling for Additional, Long-Term Funding for Community Health Centers in End-of-Year Package

U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) led a group of her colleagues in calling for additional, long-term funding for Community Health Centers in the upcoming government funding package to help ensure that low-income Granite Staters and Americans have consistent access to high-quality health care both during and after the pandemic. Senator Hassan is helping to lead bipartisan efforts to end surprise medical billing, and savings from doing so could be used to pay for continued funding for Community Health Centers.

 

“The pandemic has had a dramatic economic impact on our health centers, many of which have been forced to implement safeguarding measures to ensure the long-term financial stability of their organization,” the Senators wrote. “This includes some having made difficult personnel decisions, including temporary reductions in staffing and closures of important healthcare delivery sites during this crisis, in fact 651 health centers across the nation are currently closed due to this pandemic.”

 

The Senators continued, “Given health centers’ 50-plus years of dedicated service and vital role in protecting our nation’s most vulnerable populations, both in rural and urban areas, more must be done to ensure their long-term financial viability. Ensuring long-term, robust health center funding is essential to health centers’ ability to recruit and hire providers, expand capacity and plan for dramatic increases in demand for services, particularly as this crisis evolves.”

 

In their letter, the Senators urge Congressional leadership to consider legislation reauthorizing Community Health Centers for four years to provide crucial long-term, sustainable funding and stability to the almost 30 million low and lower-income patients treated at these health centers. 

 

Along with Senator Hassan, the letter was signed by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

 

Senator Hassan is working to provide urgently-needed support to health care providers in New Hampshire, including Community Health Centers. Last year, Senator Hassan successfully helped secure funding for Community Health Centers in the FY 2020 government funding package, and continued pushing to ensure that Community Health Centers were funded through December 18, 2020, which is the current end-of-year government funding deadline.

 

Additionally, in June, Senator Hassan joined the rest of the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation in announcing $2.4 million in additional funding to community health centers throughout New Hampshire to expand their COVID-19 testing capabilities. In April, the New Hampshire delegation announced an award for more than $6.8 million in supplemental grants for New Hampshire community health centers provided through the CARES Act. Senator Hassan is also calling for appropriate funding to help support Community Health Workers, who conduct critical outreach to racial and ethnic minorities, non-English speaking individuals, and other underserved communities, providing access to resources, accurate information, and quality health care in a culturally appropriate manner. Additionally, Senator Hassan is calling for additional federal dollars to help states and territories carry out plans for providing comprehensive community mental health services.

 

To read the full letter, click here or see below.

 

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McCarthy:

 

Thank you for your bipartisan efforts to ensure our nation’s health care providers have the resources they need to effectively prepare for and respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  As both chambers work on additional legislation to address this public health crisis before the close of the 116th Congress, we write to urge you to prioritize both a long-term reauthorization and additional infrastructure funding for Community Health Centers.

 

The passage of the Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, extended funding for community health centers (CHCs), the National Health Service Corps, teaching health centers that operate GME programs (THCGME), and the Special Diabetes Programs at current funding levels through December 18, 2020. Additionally, the CARES Act and included $1.3 billion in supplemental funding for health centers for Fiscal Year 2020. However, the Continuing Resolution did not provide additional emergency funds for public health agencies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic or other COVID-related relief or policies. The COVID-19 public health crisis has had a devastating impact on CHCs, and it is more important than ever that Congress ensure stability by securing long-term funding for health centers.

 

CHCs are operating on razor-thin margins that, for most, have been stretched to the proverbial breaking point due to Coronavirus response efforts and lost revenues, as well as multiple attacks to 340B prescription drug discount funding, resulting in a major reduction in patient visits and loss of revenue. As such, the pandemic has had a dramatic economic impact on our health centers, many of which have been forced to implement safeguarding measures to ensure the long-term financial stability of their organization. This includes some having made difficult personnel decisions, including temporary reductions in staffing and closures of important healthcare delivery sites during this crisis, in fact 651 health centers across the nation are currently closed due to this pandemic.

 

Given health centers’ 50-plus years of dedicated service and vital role in protecting our nation’s most vulnerable populations, both in rural and urban areas, more must be done to ensure their long-term financial viability. Ensuring long-term, robust health center funding is essential to health centers’ ability to recruit and hire providers, expand capacity and plan for dramatic increases in demand for services, particularly as this crisis evolves. We urge you to consider legislation reauthorizing CHCs for four years to provide crucial long-term, sustainable funding and stability to the almost 30 million low and lower-income patients treated at our health centers. 

 

It is also critical that future legislation takes into account the urgent infrastructure needs of CHCs. Now more than ever, infrastructure funding is essential to both support ongoing projects to address unmet primary care needs that have been suspended due to COVID-19, as well as supporting the implementation of various new infrastructure needs to provide ongoing and necessary care during the pandemic. This includes rapidly adopted and expanded remote telemedicine and video medicine capabilities for patients to access the services they need while mitigating the spread of the coronavirus – as well as urgent “emergency” facility alteration projects undertaken to shield crucial frontline staff while continuing to deliver critically needed testing, treatment, and every-day comprehensive preventive health care services.

 

As the government funding deadline of December 18, 2020 rapidly approaches for CHCs, we urge you to continue our commitment protecting and expanding health care for American families, ensuring the long-term stability needed for CHCs to deal with this crisis, and supporting CHCs to meet current patient care needs as well as address any future surges in patient need related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.  

 

###