WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Roy Blunt (Mo.) yesterday introduced the Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act, which would reauthorize the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) for five years. In addition, the bipartisan bill provides four percent increases for the CHCF and NHSC every year beginning in FY2019.
“Michigan families rely on the health care they receive at over 260 community health center sites in our state, including low-cost dental coverage, mental health care, vision services, and more,” said Stabenow. “Critical funding for these community health centers expires this weekend. I want to thank Senator Roy Blunt for leading this bipartisan effort with me and urge Congress to act on this important extension.”
Community health centers are a critical component of the nation’s primary care network, serving approximately 26 million patients at over 10,000 sites throughout the United States. Community health centers operate in both rural and urban areas, in every state in the nation. Last year, health centers were the medical home for one in twelve Americans, one in ten children, one in six Americans living in rural areas, and more than 330,000 of our nation’s veterans.
“More than half a million Missourians, 27 percent of whom are uninsured, rely on community health centers to provide critical, affordable health care services,” said Blunt. “The care provided at these facilities doesn’t just save lives, it saves money by cutting down on the unnecessary use of emergency rooms and hospitalizations. This bill will ensure that community health centers remain open, and extend funding for the National Health Service Corps, which brings medical, dental, and behavioral health professionals to underserved areas. I’m encouraged by the strong, bipartisan support for this bill, and I’ll continue working to ensure community health centers have the resources they need.”
Without extension of the CHCF, community health centers will lose seventy percent of their funding. This will result in an estimated 2,800 site closures, the loss of 50,000 jobs, and result in 9 million Americans losing their access to care.
Earlier this month, Stabenow and Blunt led a bipartisan group of senators in calling for immediate action to extend critical funding for community health centers before funding runs out at the end of this week.
The CHIME Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Tom Carper (Del.), Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), and Roger Wicker (Miss.).
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