Community Health Centers Could Lose Some Federal Funding

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FORDLAND, Mo. — Community Health Centers across the country could soon lose federal funding unless Congress takes action. 

Facilities here in the Ozarks are keeping a close eye on this and planning for the worst. 

The Community Health Center Fund expired in September and the money will run out on March 31. If Congress doesn’t renew it, resources will end for about 9 million patients, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers. Some of those patients are right here in Greene County. 

“We certainly are trying to operate as business as usual,” said Joan Twiton, executive director at Fordland Clinic, in Fordland, Mo.  

But she says possibly losing some federal funding is concerning. 

“It does represent a significant part of our budget,” Twiton said. 

Fordland Clinic receives $800,000 a year from the community health center fund, according to Twiton. And that’s about 20 percent of their budget.

The money helps provide care to individuals without insurance including medical, dental and mental health services.

According to NACHC nearly 9,200 sites rely on this fund. In Missouri, as of 2014, there were 188 sites serving a total of 453,922 patients.

Fordland Clinic alone sees about 5,000 patients a year. 

“There are so many people who rely on the services of community health centers that would have a hard time getting those services anywhere else,” Twiton said. 

For now, Twiton says the clinic has a contingency plan. 

“There are things that we are holding off on, making any new purchases, waiting for this issue to be resolved,” she said. 

NACHC says other centers nationwide are considering scaling back certain services, layoffs and even closures.  

Both sides of the aisle have shown support for the Community Health Center Fund in the past, so Twiton and facilities across the country hope that support will continue in the future. 

“[I] gives us encouragement that there will be some kind of a resolution,” she said.  

Congress has until Feb. 8 to vote on a Spending Bill. 
 

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