Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are facing a critical moment as central funding for the program—which supports 1,400 health centers nationwide serving 29 million patients —ends in FY23. Additionally, FQHC funding has not kept pace with the growing patient population, workforce shortage, and infrastructure needs that health centers have been confronted with through the pandemic and continue to grapple with daily. As the Public Health Emergency comes to an end and states begin the process of Medicaid redetermination, FQHCs will require even more bandwidth and resources. The current cycle of uncertainty and lack of stability regarding long-term federal funding sources for FQHCs is not sustainable and cannot continue.
We launched CHC Invest to ensure not only that FQHCs have immediate funding, but also to challenge leaders in Congress to develop a long-term, comprehensive funding plan for the program.
We believe that if Congress commits to visionary, bold investments in FQHC infrastructure, workforce, and innovation, health centers across the country will have the security and solvency to be able to fulfill their mission as hyper-local health equity hubs.
We developed our funding asks using a patient-centered formula and building on the baseline of past funding for FQHCs. We estimate health centers will be serving at least 30 million patients annually in the coming years—although recent studies have suggested even higher figures. Therefore, we based our funding requests on the need to provide comprehensive care to 30 million patients in 2023, ultimately reaching 40 million patients by 2030. We included a breakdown for per patient costs in relation to healthcare services, FQHC capital improvements, and FQHC workforce development and retention. For a more detailed explanation of our calculations, see our CHC Invest and CHC Invest: 30 by 30 background documents.
FQHCs do more than deliver high quality, comprehensive health care services to underserved communities. They also employ more than 250,000 people, spur local economies, and save the health care system at least $24 billion annually. We look forward to working with Congressional leaders and stakeholders in Washington to find ways to redirect the savings that health centers consistently bring our economy towards reinvestments in this proven program.
Currently, federal FQHC funding for FY22 totals $5.6 billion, with $3.9 billion in mandatory funding and $1.7 billion in discretionary funding. Mandatory funding expires at the end of FY23.
ACH launched CHC Invest to drive immediate discussion on the Hill and across key stakeholders, helping to spur the action needed to ensure health centers and critical supporting programs have the funding and resources necessary to continue to care for those most in need. We are proud to have ACH member organizations already committed to this work, and we invite others who share our collective goal to secure as much support, funding, and resources for health centers and the patients they serve as possible. We know that, working together, we can make this plan a reality and chart the path forward for the health care system of the future.