The House Appropriations Committee has released a draft Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill for FY2012. This legislation, were it to become law, provides funding to maintain current levels of federal grant support for all existing operations at Health Centers.
Significantly, the draft bill restores and increases the Health Centers program’s base discretionary funding level to $2.6 billion, a level that would maintain existing services at all health centers and improve the financial footing of the program going forward.
The draft legislation also rescinds $1.2 billion in expansion funding for health centers, precluding any future growth for the Health Centers program in FY2012. As a result, over 700 communities in need throughout the country remain on a wait list for a health center and an additional 1100 communities with existing health centers are unable to expand service capacity to meet increased demand.
“We appreciate the Chairman’s decision in this difficult fiscal climate to demonstrate clear support for existing health centers by restoring and maintaining base program funding. At the same time, we remain concerned with unmet need for health center services that will persist with the elimination of expansion funding for the program,” said Tom Van Coverden, President and CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). “Accordingly, we look forward to working with the House and with the Senate to reconcile their respective bills as the appropriations process continues, to assure that the program’s base funding is restored and that some level of expansion funding is included in the final package.”
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