BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Working with CEOs of primary care associations across the country, the National Association of Community Health Centers requests immediate financial relief of between $3.2 and $3.3 billion through the federal Stimulus Bill. Our nation’s community health centers, which provide critical primary care to 29 million lower-income Americans could see total losses exceeding $3 billion over the next 12 weeks alone. We need help now.
When, not if, there is a surge of COVID-19 patients, we are deeply concerned that we won’t be here to relieve pressure on hospital emergency rooms, nor here to help save lives.
The driving factors behind this revenue decline are simple:
- Reduced services: As we transition our organizations to rapidly respond to the need for screening and testing of COVID-19 patients, we are being forced to make excruciating decisions in real time to curtail or suspend non-urgent services and close sites, resulting in dramatic revenue reductions.
- Reduced workforce: Both COVID-19 exposed and high risk quarantined staff are unable to work, as well as employees forced to stay home as caregivers due to school and childcare closures.
Reductions in service lines and depressed visits, in combination with workforce and supply shortages, are serving to deplete health center revenue. Early data from Massachusetts health centers indicate declines of between 50 and 70 percent of their net patient service revenue. Based on those rates of decline, our non-profit partner Capital Link estimates that starting now and into the foreseeable future, the nation’s health centers could see total losses exceeding $3 billion over just the next 12 weeks. These losses are not sustainable and would cause a ripple effect through the healthcare continuum if health centers were to close their doors.
The lack of access to personal protective equipment (PPE), testing kits, and medical tents to isolate, test, and treat patients is also at an acute level and undermining our ability to ensure the safety of health center staff and patients as we work to address the pandemic. Many health centers have indicated that their supplies of masks, N95 respirators, gloves, and testing kits are already exhausted or will be within a matter of days. What’s more, a lack of timely testing also blocks the ability of exposed staff to quickly return to work.
We thank and implore our many supporters in Congress – from both sides of the aisle – to heed our collective states’ call as the “canaries in the coal mine” of this crisis. Community health centers’ continued existence is fundamental to the nation’s health care safety net. Our ability to respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic and fulfill our public health role in the vulnerable communities we serve is irreplaceable. As the Stimulus Bill is finalized, it is critical that it include the requested funding for Community Health Centers.
California Primary Care Association, Carmela Castellano-Garcia, CEO
Community Health Center Association of New York, Rose Duhan, President & CEO
Illinois Primary Care Association, Jordan Powell, CEO
Indiana Primary Health Care Association, Ben Harvey, CEO
Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, James W. Hunt, Jr., President & CEO
Michigan Primary Care Association, Dennis Litos, Interim CEO
Missouri Primary Care Association, Joseph Pierle, CEO
Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, Randy Runyon, President & CEO
Washington Association for Community Health, Bob Marsalli, CEO