O'Halleran Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Fund Community Health Centers

March 28, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21) introduced the Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act – bipartisan legislation that extends the Community Health Centers Fund (CHCF) for five years and includes modest increases to ensure responsiveness to demands for care and national priority areas.

“Arizona community health centers serve hundreds of thousands of patients every year and employ more than 6,000 doctors, nurses, and medical staff. They are critical to the health and wellbeing of our state, especially in rural and underserved areas, and we must ensure they have the funding they need to continue their mission,” O’Halleran said. “This bipartisan legislation, which we introduced in the last Congress, extends the Community Health Centers Fund and protects care for Arizonans and Americans across the country. I am proud to re-introduce this legislation with my colleagues, and I am committed to working across the aisle to address access to quality care regardless of the zip code in which people live.”

“Community health centers serve over 95,000 patients in my district,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “We know firsthand that strong and affordable health care in rural communities is critical, and I’m proud to advocate on behalf of our region. This common-sense, bipartisan legislation will ensure that North Country patients have access to quality health care in their communities for years to come.”

Community health centers are the primary care medical home for more than 26 million Americans living in every state and territory. With bipartisan support from Congress, the more than 1,400 health center organizations nationwide provide access to high-quality primary and preventive care, while integrating behavioral health, dental, substance abuse and other critical services for their patients. Health centers are a cost-effective provider of care, having been proven to save 24 percent in total Medicaid spending when compared to other providers.

Total funding for the health centers program currently stands at $5.6 billion annually. Of this total, 72 percent comes from the CHCF, a dedicated source of funding that was extended until September 2019. Without Congressional action, that funding will expire.

According to past estimates from the Department of Human Services, cutting CHCF funding would result in over 9 million patients losing access to care, eliminate 50,000 jobs in economically hard-hit communities, and force 2,800 health center locations to shut their doors.