MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Leaders from the country’s community health centers (CHC), including the Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers (MNACHC), will gather in Washington D.C. on September 10 to press Congress to pass legislation that would extend funding to the Community Health Centers Fund (CHCF). The CHCF, the lifeblood of the nation’s 1,400 CHCs, including 17 in Minnesota, will expire on September 30.
Community health centers deliver primary medical, dental and behavioral health care to 28 million vulnerable Americans annually. They’re supported across the political spectrum because their upstream services and interventions keep community members healthy and out of emergency rooms and hospitals, saving taxpayers billions of dollars per year.
Minnesota’s 17 CHCs now serve nearly 200-thousand low-income Minnesotans in medically underserved areas, and function as a vital component of Minnesota’s health care safety net, providing comprehensive primary and preventive care to people who would otherwise lack access to these services.
If Congress doesn’t vote to extend funding before it expires, the impact on Minnesotans will be immediate and profound. Some Minnesota CHC sites will close. Others will restrict services and hours, jeopardizing access to pre- and post-natal care, dental services, nutrition classes and health care for the state’s homeless people. Many Minnesotans who are weaning off substance addictions will lose their care team support.
“It’s heartening that the bi-partisan sponsors of Congressional legislation that funds the CHCF drafted a longer-term plan to ensure the financial security of CHCs for more than their historical two-year blocks of time,” said Jonathan Watson, CEO, Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers. “But Congress must act immediately to pass this bill, so the safety net health centers in Minnesota and across the country remain in their communities without interruption, providing the care on which so many people depend.”
Over the past five years, a record number of patients visited a Minnesota CHC. During every year of this period, as CHCs responded to the opioid crisis, the number of behavioral health and substance use disorder services in Minnesota’s CHCs increased from the previous year.
About Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers
The Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers (MNACHC) is a non-profit membership organization of Minnesota’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). MNACHC works on behalf of its members to promote the cost-effective delivery of affordable, quality primary health care services, with a special emphasis on meeting the needs of low income and medically underserved populations.