Congress Must Approve Budget to Fund Vital Community Health Centers

01/18/2018 by Starla Collins

Healthcare can be one of the more complicated and divisive political issues any policymaker has to work on. Every decision made in Congress can significantly impact the lives of millions of people regardless of age, health needs, social-economic status and race.

Today, the stakes couldn’t be higher. As Congress continues to debate ways to move our healthcare system to one that’s focused on patient needs with greater access, higher quality and lower costs, there’s one solution that makes a daily positive impact on the well-being of individuals and communities and is a solution virtually all of us agree on: the positive impact of Community Health Centers, or CHCs, on the health of people.

One in Two Low Income Neighbors Seek Care at Community Health Centers

Did you know that one in two northern Arizona low-income residents seek care at one of these local Community Health Centers?

North Country HealthCare (NCHC) and Native Americans for Community Action, Inc., (NACA) provide critical healthcare services including primary care, dental care and behavioral health services to more 50,000 people in 18 clinic locations throughout the region.

In Flagstaff, these two community health centers collectively leverage $7 million in federal support to serve our uninsured and underinsured populations.

Anyone who has received care or visited any of these locations has seen firsthand what a difference these organizations make in the lives of our neighbors and in the health of our communities.

Serious Risk of Decreased Healthcare and Resources

Unfortunately, if Congress doesn’t act to continue funding, our CHCs – and the patients and communities they serve – are at serious risk of decreased healthcare and resources. If funding is lost, both NCHC and NACA will have to scale back on services and critical staff. Both health centers employ more than 550 individuals in the region.

“Community Health Centers like North Country HealthCare and NACA are essential parts of the medical safety net,” says Anne Newland, M.D., M.P.H., North Country HealthCare CEO. “We must maintain the safety net infrastructure to care for some of the most vulnerable.”

Congress must prioritize the extension of funding for Community Health Centers by Friday, Jan. 19. If Congress doesn’t extend this critical funding, CHCs across the nation and in our region will face a 70-percent reduction in federal support. According to the Federal Government’s own estimates, that level of reduction would lead to the closure of approximately 2,800 CHC locations, loss of more than 50,000 jobs and, most importantly, a loss of access to care for close to 9 million patients.

A Fiscal and Humanitarian Disaster

This will not only be a humanitarian disaster, it will also be a fiscal one. If patients don’t have access to primary care in their communities, they turn to hospital emergency rooms for routine care or defer needed care until their health problems are more serious and costly to treat.

Case in point: a 2016 study showed that when patients on Medicaid get their care at a CHC, their total cost of care was 24-percent less than those who sought care elsewhere. The old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is the reality happening at Community Health Centers every day.

On a bipartisan basis and through successive administrations, Congress has invested in CHCs. This investment means new health centers opening in communities and more services such substance abuse treatment. In 2015, the funding authorization for CHCs was passed by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote – a rarity in this political environment.

Contact Your Members of Congress

So with so much uncertainty in our healthcare system, let’s build on consensus and build on success. Please support and let your elected officials know you want them to support extending funding for CHCs on a multi-year basis with at least the current levels of funding so that our community knows it has a stable and reliable place to go for care. We urge you to reach out to your members of Congress by calling 1-866-456-3949 or visit

Starla S. Collins is Interim Public Relations Coordinator at North Country HealthCare.

Categories: Company News

2 responses to “Congress Must Approve Budget to Fund Vital Community Health Centers”

  1. Please Congress approve the budget to fund vital community health centers. These health centers have helped me and my family, and so many others.
    Thank you for approving this,

    Marva Bochat

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