It is with great concern that I update you on the Community Health Centers funding cliff. As most of you know, the federal funding source for health centers expired at the end of 2017.
Congress needed to renew the program by Sept. 30, 2017 to keep Community Health Centers (CHCs) from going over a fiscal cliff at the end of the year. But Congress, preoccupied with a battle over the federal budget and a potential government shutdown, failed to act.
CHCs avoided disaster when Congress temporarily extended funds until March 2018. Unless Congress renews the funding program for CHCs after March, services will need to be modified dramatically.
As this newsletter goes to print, there is no relief in sight for the Federal government funding cliff faced by CHCs. We face a 70 percent cutback in program funding, if the US Congress doesn’t act. This cliff also extends to the National Health Service Corps and the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program.
We continually hear from the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats that they fully support CHCs. Piedmont Health is not alone in facing the funding cliff. In North Carolina, there are 40 health centers with 220 locations serving over 500,000 patients. Nationally, there are 1,400 health centers in 9,000 locations.
Every day that we are open at Piedmont Health Services, we see over 80 uninsured people.
When the average cost of an Emergency Room (ER) in NC is approximately $1,400, we save hospitals ($112,000 IN UNCOMPENSATED CARE PER DAY) Or Over A HALF MILLION DOLLARS ($560,000) PER WEEK!
Numbers Tell the Story
This is just for Piedmont Health, not including the other Community Health Centers around the nation that serves 27 million patients per year. If this situation is not resolved, the amount of unnecessary visits and costs to emergency rooms will be unfathomable.
If this cliff were to happen, it would truly be a tragedy because of what the health-care system would be losing. CHCs can take care of everyone. This is the least expensive medical care in town for uninsured patients.
Putting hospitals and insurance premiums at risk is financially irresponsible.
Our uninsured patients are working people who often have more than one job. We keep them healthy so they can go to work.
Our patients pay us as Piedmont Health Services is not a free clinic. Our collection rate from patients is 92 percent. They are great partners in health care. It is time for our government to do the same.
We need your help now so we can provide high quality, affordable healthcare. Please help:
- Call U.S. Senators Richard Burr & Thom Tillis and U.S. Representatives David Price & Mark Walker in our service area (1-866-456-3949), or email them at http://p2a.co/nlIY25d. Thank them for restoring funds for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). And then tell them that you need them to restore funding now for our Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps and the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program.
- Ask your friends and family to reach out to the US Congress also.
Thank you in advance for helping in this crucial fight.