WASHINGTON – Advocates for Community Health (ACH)—a member-based organization striving to advance health equity and the delivery of health care to underserved populations—today announced the launch of its CHC Invest campaign. The initiative calls on Congress to make urgent and long-term investments in the community health center program to ensure federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) can fulfill their mission as hyper-local health care hubs. This effort comes at a critical moment for FQHCs as the central funding stream for the network of 1,400 centers serving 29 million patients annually ends in FY23.
CHC Invest urges Congressional leaders to increase immediate funding for health centers and supporting programs to $13B in FY23. ACH also recommends that Congress scale investments in health center infrastructure, workforce, and innovation over the next seven years to reach a total of $30B by 2030.
“Health centers have been instrumental in building healthier communities for decades, working tirelessly to meet the evolving needs of their patients and providing care to our country’s most underserved populations,” said Advocates for Community Health CEO Amanda Pears Kelly. “We are asking our nation’s leaders to recognize the tremendous value FQHCs bring both in times of crisis and in long-term health outcomes for millions of Americans. They desperately need leaders in Congress to take visionary, bold action now if they are to continue this lifesaving work.”
Even before the pandemic, health centers in the United States were serving 1 in 11 Americans with 1 in 5 patients identifying as Medicaid beneficiaries or uninsured individuals. FQHCs provide services to critically underserved populations, including veterans, students, individuals experiencing homelessness, public housing residents, and agricultural workers. A recent report from Capital Link predicted that, based on patient growth trends, FQHCs are on track to serve up to 38.5 million patients in the coming years. For these services to meet quality standards— and for health centers to build and maintain essential operations—FQHCs would need an investment of approximately $17.5 billion over the next five years to adequately serve patients while also sustaining system capacity.
“The clock is ticking,” said Pears Kelly. “Funding for health centers and several supporting programs is set to expire in a matter of months. At a time when our healthcare system is already strained to a near breaking point, we cannot afford to wait. We need Congress to act immediately to ensure stability and chart a path forward to address the increasing need and demand for access to care.”
With Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy sounding the alarm about health care workforce burnout, this initiative comes at a critical time for community health centers and the patients they serve. FQHCs are the nation’s largest network of primary care providers, bringing comprehensive care to millions of Americans, and they are facing a workforce crisis that directly impacts their ability to support an increasing patient population. Additionally, as states prepare for the conclusion of the Public Health Emergency and the resulting Medicaid redetermination, FQHCs will largely shoulder the burden to ensure patients most in need do not fall through the cracks.
The CHC Invest campaign encompasses funding plans focused on immediate investment in FY23 as well as a CHC Invest: 30 by 30 plan providing a vision for longer-range investments through 2030. Asks include:
- $9B in FY23 for FQHCs, breaking down to $300/patient to serve 30 million patients annually, with 32% through annual appropriations and 68% through increased allocations for the Community Health Center Fund
- $1.5B in FY23 for health center capital improvements, breaking down to $50/patient to serve 30 million patients annually
- $2.5B in FY23 for health center workforce investments, breaking down to $83/patient to serve 30 million patients annually
- $17B by FY30 in annual funding for FQHCs, with 20% through annual appropriations and 80% through increased allocations for the Community Health Center Fund
- $5.5B by FY30 for health center capital improvement
- $6.5B by FY30 for health center workforce development and retention
- $1B by FY30 in innovation-related funding to allow FQHCs to meet the needs of their communities more fully
“FQHCs nationwide are facing a multitude of challenges—from the disproportionate effects of the continuing pandemic on the communities we serve to worsening workforce shortages—and we need Congress to act now,” said ACH Board Chair and Family HealthCare Network Chief Executive Officer Kerry Hydash, MPA. “We hope that CHC Invest will inspire our leaders in Washington to make the immediate and long-term investments necessary for health centers to treat the full range of our patients’ needs, support community transformation, and achieve true health equity.”
FQHCs do more than deliver quality health care services to underserved communities. They also employ more than 250,000 people, spur local economies, and save the health care system $24 billion annually. Throughout the pandemic, health centers have administered more than 21 million vaccines and 19 million COVID tests, the majority of which were delivered to communities of color, and these numbers continue to climb daily.
To learn more about the CHC Invest campaign and ACH, visit www.advocatesforcommunityhealth.org.
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About Advocates for Community Health
Advocates for Community Health is a membership organization for large, federally qualified health centers that strives to advance the delivery of health care to underserved populations and to achieve health equity for patients and communities in need. We are committed to working collaboratively to advance well-defined and forward-thinking policies at the national level. By leveraging the wisdom, agility, and innovation of our members, ACH brings bold leadership to drive change in the American healthcare system. To learn more about membership and partnership opportunities, visit www.advocatesforcommunityhealth.org.