In another attempt by the Trump-led GOP to keep the poor and medically underserved from dying by treatable disease, a vital program is at great risk of being gone forever if congressional action doesn’t take place.
The Community Health Center Fund, is a program that serves populations that find acquiring health care difficult in traditional outlets. It provides grants to community health centers that then provide these people with comprehensive primary care, mental health, vision, and dental service without regard to type of insurance or ability to pay. The fund has roots in Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, and has historically been supported by both Republican and Democrats including George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Unfortunately the program is at risk of falling between the cracks by our current inept stooges in Congress and their inability to do anything on a bipartisan basis. The program requires $3.5 billion a year to stay afloat, and there are speculations that serious negotiations are already underway to save the program. The disagreement lies in where the funding will come from as Republican leaders insist that any new spending must come with offsetting cuts. (An insistence the GOP had no problem looking away from when passing their own tax cuts.) The fund has been kept going since it expired last fall with appropriations, however a long-term funding source is desperately needed to ensure the future of the fund and to keep open the community health centers that rely on the grants for 70 percent of their total funding.
Not only would the loss of this program negatively affect the 9 million low-income and medically insecure patients that utilize the services at these community health centers, but the nurses, doctors, and administrative staff that work at these centers as well. It is estimated that 51,000 American citizens would be out of work if these centers were to close. For a Republican party that wants to put every American back to work, they sure aren’t showing it by their inaction on the Community Health Center Fund.
Hopefully Congress will be able to come together to find a way to fund this program without expecting the Democrats to sell their souls in order to do what is right. The number of people who would lose their only source of affordable healthcare is frightening, and the effects the loss of these health care centers would have on the local communities would be devastating. No one should have to be medically insecure in 2018, and we need to take action before we go back to the emergency room being the primary care for millions.