Rep. Pressley, Senators Warren & Sanders Seek Strong, Long-Term Funding for Community Health Programs

October 24, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) led 85 of their colleagues in sending a letter to Senate and House Leadership urging them to provide a five-year extension of the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF), the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program. The lawmakers’ letter comes as funding for the programs is set to expire on November 21.

The 52 Community Health Centers in Massachusetts provide life-saving, affordable, and patient-centered resources to over 300,000 children, people experiencing homelessness, immigrants and veterans. Congresswoman Pressley is a long-time advocate for community-based health care programs and is also a member of the Congressional Community Health Centers Caucus. Earlier this year, she helped secure $1.6 billion in funding for the Health Center program, including $5 million to support school-based health centers.

“We believe that Congress must immediately secure additional funding for these critical public health programs and urge swift action before November 21 to ensure continuous access to medical training and health care services for all who need it,” wrote the lawmakers. “Together, these programs serve as a crucial supply line to meet our nation’s growing demand for primary care physicians.”

The lawmakers urged Leadership to provide a five-year extension of the CHCF, NHSC and THCGME, noting that the programs have long enjoyed bipartisan support and play crucial roles in delivering primary and preventive health care to America’s most underserved and vulnerable communities. Specifically, the lawmakers called for robust funding increases to the programs over time—like those envisioned in the Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act—to afford these programs the predictability and stability they need to train and recruit providers, purchase equipment, expand services available to patients, and plan strategically to meet the current and future needs of patients.

Joining the lawmakers in sending the letter are Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), David Trone (D-MD), Deb Haaland (D-NM), TJ Cox (D-CA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Al Lawson (D-FL), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Darren Soto (D-FL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Max Rose (D-NY), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Karen Bass (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), David E. Price (D-NC), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), Andre Carson (D-IN), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Peter Welch (D-VT), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Terri A. Sewell (D-AL), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Al Green (D-TX), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Bill Foster (D-IL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Sanford D. Bishop (D-GA), Gregorio K. Camacho Sablan (D-NMI), Donald M. Payne, Jr (D-NJ), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), James E. Clyburn (D-SC), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), John Lewis (D-GA), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA), Filemon Vela (D-TX), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (D-CA), Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), Jesus G. “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Alma S. Adams (D-NC), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Dina Titus (D-NV), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer:

 

We write today to express our strong support for the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF), and the funds it provides to Community Health Centers (CHCs) and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). It is essential that these vital programs receive strong and long-term funding at the levels outlined in H.R. 1943/S.962, the Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act. Additionally, we urge you to provide strong funding levels for the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program. We believe that Congress must immediately secure additional funding for these critical public health programs and urge swift action before November 21 to ensure continuous access to medical training and health care services for all who need it.

 

CHCs, THCGME, and NHSC have long enjoyed bipartisan support and play crucial roles in delivering primary and preventive health care to America’s most underserved and vulnerable communities. Avoiding a funding lapse is vital for CHCs, which serve 28 million patients, including over 350,000 veterans, over 8 million children, and 1.4 million homeless patients, in thousands of rural, urban, and frontier communities nationally. CHCs also employ more than 220,000 people across the country, produce nearly $55 billion in economic activity, and saves our health care system more than $24 billion per year.  In addition, they help patients access healthy and affordable foods, housing support, and transportation assistance, and they are critical to the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents. They have also been on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, providing substance use disorder and mental health treatment to patients in need.

 

The 56 Teaching Health Centers around the country, meanwhile, support more than 700 medical residents currently training to provide healthcare services to an estimated one million patients annually in underserved rural and urban communities. Over 80% of residents training in a teaching health center did so in a medically underserved or rural community.  Additionally, the NHSC places thousands of medical professionals in the highest need areas of our country so they can provide primary medical, dental and mental and behavioral health services in underserved communities. These scholarships and loan repayment programs allow clinicians to provide care to more than 11 million people across the country. Together, these programs serve as a crucial supply line to meet our nation’s growing demand for primary care physicians.

 

Less than two years ago, Congress voted overwhelmingly to extend and increase funding for these three public health programs as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. Now that the deadline is upon us again, we must act to provide a five-year extension of the Community Health Center, Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education, and National Health Service Corps programs. We urge you to provide strong funding increases over time – like those envisioned in H.R. 1943/S.962, the Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act. This will afford our health centers the predictability and stability they need to train and recruit providers, purchase equipment, expand services available to patients, and plan strategically to meet the current and future needs of patients.

 

We appreciate your attention to this matter.

 

 

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