On behalf of health centers and the millions of Americans we serve, Advocates for Community Health is urging Congressional leaders to include funding in the upcoming budget reconciliation package to sustain and deepen the critical support we provide our patients. Building from Congressional proposals such as Chairman Frank Pallone’s LIFT Act, we strongly support at least a $10 billion investment in capital project grants for the construction and modernization of community health centers. This investment is critical to solidify the nation’s primary care backbone, particularly given health centers trajectory to serve more than 38 million patients by 2025.
Community health centers have been instrumental throughout the COVID-19 pandemic—and in the decades before this global crisis. With more than 1,300 federally-funded health centers currently serving nearly 30 million patients and employing hundreds of thousand Americans, the health center network is a critical part of this country’s infrastructure and must be prioritized now more than ever.
Even before the pandemic, health centers were bringing lifesaving healthcare services to 1 in 11 Americans with 1 in 5 patients identifying as Medicaid beneficiaries or uninsured individuals. We are often the only health care option for our nation’s most underserved populations, including veterans, students, individuals experiencing homelessness, public housing residents, and agricultural workers. Health equity has always been at the center of our model; 91% of the Americans we serve are low-income, and 63% are racial or ethnic minorities, and we consistently provide our communities with higher quality, lower cost care.
In addition to this foundational funding for capital improvements, we are also advocating for a small investment in health centers’ ability to remain prepared for future pandemics and other health emergencies through a Health Center Emergency Preparedness Fund. This grant program would support FQHCs willing to partner with their local health departments and serve as regional coordinating centers during times of emergency.
We look forward to working with Congress on both proposals in the coming months.