Health and Fitness

Senators Durbin, Duckworth Join Bipartisan Effort To Immediately Fund Community Health Centers

Illinois Primary Health Asc.
Senator Durbin Meets With Illinois Primary Health Care Association (Image Provided)

WASHINGTON –(ENEWSPF)—February 6, 2018. U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and 63 other members to call on Senate leadership to immediately reauthorize funding for our nation’s community health centers. In a bipartisan letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Durbin, Duckworth, and 65 of their Senate colleagues expressed their strong support for community health centers, which provide access to cost-effective primary and preventive care for families across the country.

“Community health centers serve a vital function, providing affordable health care to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens,” wrote the senators. “They provide quality medical, dental, vision, and behavioral health care to more than 27 million patients, including 330,000 of our nation’s veterans and 8 million children, at over 10,000 sites nationwide. … Without extension of the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF), community health centers will lose seventy percent of their funding.  This will result in an estimated 2,800 site closures, the loss of 50,000 jobs, and approximately 9 million Americans losing access to their health care.”

As the senators note in their letter, the CHCF expired on September 30, 2017. The failure to reauthorize the fund has jeopardized access to care for millions of Americans, and made it difficult for community health centers to adequately plan for everything from staffing needs to securing loans for capital projects.

In addition to Durbin, Duckworth, Blunt, and Stabenow, the Senators who signed on to today’s letter include: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Boozman (R-AR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), John Hoeven (R-ND), James Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (R-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bill Nelson (D-FA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), James Risch (R-ID), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

In September, Durbin and Duckworth joined 68 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman and Ranking Member, expressing their strong support for community health centers and calling for an immediate extension of its critical funding.

Today, Durbin met with members of the Illinois Primary Health Care Association—representing Illinois’s 51 community health centers—to discuss the need for Congress to reauthorize long-term funding for our nation’s community health centers.

Illinois community health centers currently provide primary health care services to approximately 1.3 million Illinois residents – including one out of every four Medicaid patients – at 51 health centers with 360 treatment sites in medically underserved areas throughout the state.  Illinois community health centers employ over 7,600 individuals, equaling a payroll of more than $508 million.  They also inject approximately $800 million in operating expenditures into their communities, resulting in an overall economic impact of $1.48 billion and overall employment of 11,700.  A recent study found that Illinois community health centers save 27 percent in total spending per Medicaid patient compared to non-health center providers.

Over its 50 year history, the Health Center Program has grown from two community health centers to nearly 1,400 community health centers operating over 9,800 clinic sites in every U.S. state and territory.  In 2015, community health centers employed nearly 190,000 people and served over 24 million patients.  One in 13 people nationwide rely on a HRSA-funded community health center for their preventive and primary health care needs.

Full text of the letter is available here