For Immediate Release
February 6, 2018
Contact: Toni Granato, Communications Coordinator of the New Jersey Primary Care Association, 609-689-9930
Community Health Center Advocates Urge Congress to Reinstate Funding
Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) patients, doctors, nurses, and other advocates are in Washington D.C. today for a national press conference to discuss the urgent need to reinstate FQHC funding. The “Day of Demonstration-Red Alert for Community Health Centers” Fly-In press conference was held on Tuesday, February 6th at 10:30 AM. The press conference took place at the Capitol Triangle (outside the Capitol Building). Since 1965, FQHCs (also known as Community Health Centers) have served our communities by providing the medically underserved quality, cost-effective and efficient primary healthcare. The primary goal of the Fly-In Day is to ensure that Congress keeps Health Center funding at the top of their “must-do” priority list as part of their work to keep the government open past February 8th. FQHCs from New Jersey are meeting with their representatives today to ensure funding is reinstated.
“We are talking about our neighbors. Over 200,000 New Jerseyans stand to lose their ability to get care if funding is not renewed. Community Health Centers provide preventative and primary care to over 500,000 people in our state, keeping people healthy every day. Without funding from the federal government, Health Centers will have to cut staff, shorten hours, and even cut services. People who do not have access to primary care will be forced to go to the emergency room for their healthcare needs at taxpayer’s expense,” said New Jersey Primary Care Association President and CEO, Jillian Hudspeth.
Although Community Health Centers have existed for over 50 years, the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) was recently established in the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and was extended in 2015 for an additional two years. Congress failed to reauthorize the fund before its expiration on September 30, 2017, leaving Community Health Centers in limbo for the past several months as the Centers wait for Congress to extend the more than 70 percent of federal grant funding that Health Centers rely on. If funding is not restored, Community Health Centers in New Jersey stand to lose over $56 million in federal funding in 2018. The estimated number of patients not able to receive care would be 213,000 people, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers. A brief issued by George Washington University and RCHN Community Health Center stated that without funding, New Jersey would lose between $212 million and $453 million. New Jersey would lose between 2,000 and 4,000 jobs.
“Neglecting to provide funding for Community Health Centers will have a disastrous impact upon our Health Center,” says President and CEO of Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers, Linda Flake. “If the cliff is not fixed, services that are vital to the communities we serve may be cut by at least 20 percent! I am talking about primary medical, dental, and behavioral health care that is provided to the most vulnerable populations! Patients will be forced to seek treatment at hospital emergency rooms, at best, a much costlier alternative. There will be drastic cuts in staff as well! Health Centers are required by regulation to establish a budget at the beginning of the fiscal year. How can we responsibly handle our operations with this uncertainty that impacts significantly upon our future stability as a safety net provider? The simple answer is, we can’t. The cliff must be fixed.”
Although participation for the Fly-In is from across the nation, Community Health Centers participating in the Fly-In Day from New Jersey include: Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey Community Health Center; Monmouth Family Health Center; Ocean Health Initiatives, Inc.; Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers; CAMcare Health Corporation; Metropolitan Family Health Network; Rutgers Community Health Center; Center for Health Education, Medicine, & Dentistry (CHEMED); Project H.O.P.E.; and Zufall Health Center.
The New Jersey Primary Care Association (NJPCA) is an advocate for community health centers as well as a provider of comprehensive education, training, and technical assistance to health centers in New Jersey. NJPCA currently has 24 health centers, one of which is a look-alike and 134 satellite sites providing healthcare services to over 500,000 people in New Jersey. For more information about NJPCA, please visit njpca.org.
Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are in every state across the nation. FQHCs are authorized under Section 330(A) of the Public Health Services Act to provide healthcare to the medically underserved. Many health centers and their sites are specially designated to serve the needs of special populations including homeless populations, public housing residents, migrant and seasonal farm workers, veterans and school-aged children. For more information about the HRSA Health Center Program, please visit bphc.hrsa.gov/about/index.html.
In the photos are Federally Qualified Health Center CEOs, their staff members, and NJPCA.