President’s Budget Recognizes the Important Role of Community Health Centers Now and in the Future But Policy Also Contains Unnecessary Slow-down of Needed Expansions
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The President’s FY2013 Budget released this week funds the Health Centers Program at a total programmatic level of $3.1 billion, or a $300 million increase. This level of funding would allow health centers to continue to meet the needs of the more than 20 million patients who rely on them for primary care today. In addition, if the $300 million increase were fully utilized, it would provide enough funding for an additional 2.5 million Americans to receive access to high quality care at a health center next year. This is a vitally important step, especially during this time when an estimated 60 million Americans, many of whom have health insurance, do not have access to primary medical care in their communities. The budget also addresses the need for steady and sustainable growth for the Health Centers Program, including in FY2015 and beyond. Unfortunately, the policy reflected in the budget also calls for limited utilization of the proposed increase, supporting the creation of just 25 new health centers that would expand care to only about 60,000 additional patients, while allocating the bulk of next year’s increase to prevent future year shortfalls in funding. As a result, there will be less health center expansion in the years leading up to 2014, and insufficient primary care capacity to meet the needs of the projected 32 million newly insured, particularly those on Medicaid. Importantly, the President’s budget also speaks to the continued importance of health centers in the future, highlighting that health centers “provide an accessible and dependable source of primary care services in underserved communities” that will be critically important as millions of uninsured Americans receive coverage in the coming years. "In light of the economic conditions that forced the Administration to make many difficult choices, we are grateful that the President’s Budget reflects the important role that health centers play in the health care system and the value that they offer and we appreciate its recognition of the need to sustain the efforts of existing health centers," said Tom Van Coverden, President and CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers. "However, in a time where most health centers are seeing unrelenting demand for their services and thousands of communities are still waiting for accessible primary care through a health center, and with only two years left to gear up for the coverage expansions, we are disappointed at the slowed expansion of the Health Centers Program that is also reflected in this proposal."
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