TRUE OR FALSE: community health centers across the country are considering taking steps to reduce staffing, close some locations, and eliminate or reduce services – all because of funding uncertainty?
The Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) established the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF), which accounts for 72 percent of health center grant funding. Unless the funding is extended, the grant will expire at the end of the month. The fund provides $4 billion for 2019 and helps 1,362 community health centers or Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) provide care to 28 million patients annually in medically under served rural and urban areas, including patients lacking health insurance. Additionally, the funding assists patients with services that are not typically covered by insurance, such as dental costs.
Let’s look at some worrying stats:
- Nearly 6 in 10 (59%) FQHCs are either considering a hiring freeze or have one in place. 42 percent say they are considering laying off staff or reducing staff hours.
- Some FQHCs report they have taken or are considering steps such as reducing operating hours (35%) or closing one or more sites (26%).
- FQHCs are also considering reductions in services, such as case management and interpretation services (39%), dental services (25%) and mental health services (20%).
- FQHCs in states that have not expanded Medicaid were more likely to report having taken or considering such reductions.
Why is this so significant?
According to the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), 1 in 12 patients (29 million people) will utilize a FQHC in 2020. FQHCs are instrumental in providing primary care services to all patients.
Where are we now with the funding?
Congress bills have advanced out of committee in the House and Senate that would extend the funding, at the current funding levels, for 4 and 5 years, but have not reached the floor for the vote.
Not interested in closing your doors because of funding?
Let’s talk about how you can become financially independent.