WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), David Young (R-IA-03), Joe Courtney (D-CT-02), and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01) introduced the Community Health Investment, Modernization and Excellence (CHIME) Act of 2017 – bipartisan legislation to extend the Community Health Centers Fund (CHCF) for five years, with modest increases to ensure responsiveness to demand for care and national priority areas.
“Federally qualified community health centers in my district serve over 95,000 patients, and it’s critical to the needs of our community that this funding be extended,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “The health centers provide families across the North Country with critical healthcare and preventative services. Congress must act to ensure the North Country and communities across the country don’t lose access to this needed care, and I’m pleased to work across the aisle with my colleagues on this important legislation.”
“I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important bill to provide certainty and needed funding for Iowa’s Community Health Centers so they can continue to provide comprehensive health services for those in most need,” said Congressman Young. “Our Community Health Centers are incredibly important to ensuring Iowans in rural and underserved areas have access to care while saving costs for our national health system, and I’ll continue to work to see this bill pass so our patients have access to the care they deserve.”
“Community Health Centers provide high-quality primary and preventative care to hundreds of thousands of patients in Connecticut at dozens of locations across the state,” said Congressman Courtney. These are vital, efficient, and locally-focused healthcare providers and it is absolutely imperative that Congress passes legislation that will allow them to continue serving their patients. Powered by local communities and supported by federal funding, the Federally Qualified Community Health Center program is a true success story.”
“Last year, Arizona community health centers served more than 600,000 patients and provided critical jobs to nearly 5,000 doctors, nurses, and medical staff,” said Congressman O’Halleran. “If Congress does not act, more than 150 health centers will lose funding and no longer be able to serve our communities. I am proud to join my colleagues on this bipartisan bill that extends the Community Health Centers Funds and protects access to care for Arizona families.”
"This legislation could not come at a more critical time for our nation's health centers and the patients and communities they serve,” said Dan Hawkins, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Research, National Association of Community Health Centers. “Health centers nationwide are already experiencing major disruptions as a result of the looming funding cliff. The CHIME Act would provide health centers in more than 10,000 communities the certainty they need to continue delivering high-value care, keeping costs down and improving quality. We thank Reps. Stefanik, O’Halleran, Young and Courtney for their leadership. NACHC strongly endorses this legislation and is committed to working with Congress to ensure passage before the September 30 deadline."
“The day-to-day care provided by federally qualified community health centers is considered to be the life-blood of rural communities both regionally and across the country. These health centers deliver access to proactive, high quality, cost-effective health care regardless of ability to pay for tens of thousands of individuals regionally,” said Dr. Tucker Slingerland, CEO of Hudson Headwaters Health Network. “Continued funding for community health centers also translates into larger savings downstream where medical services often carry a much higher expense. We represent the forefront of innovation needed to build a more efficient and sustainable delivery system.”
Community Health Centers are the primary care medical home for more than 26 million Americans living in every state and territory. With bipartisan support from Congress, the more than 1,400 health center organizations nationwide provide access to high-quality primary and preventive care, while integrating behavioral health, dental, substance abuse and other critical services for their patients. Health Centers are a cost-effective provider of care, having been proven to save 24% in total Medicaid spending when compared to other providers.
Total funding for the Health Centers program currently stands at $5.1 billion annually. Of this total, $3.6 billion comes from the Community Health Centers Fund (CHCF), a dedicated source of funding that was extended for two years in 2015. Without action by Congress by September 30, 2017, this funding is slated to expire.
According to estimates from the Department of Human Services, a funding cut of this magnitude to the Health Centers program would result in over 9 million patients losing access to care, cost 50,000 jobs in economically hard-hit communities across the nation, and force 2,800 health center locations to shut their doors.
Click here for bill text.