Dear Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi,
We write to express our serious concerns over the expiration of the Community Health Centers Fund (CHCF) program. We understand that community health centers across the country are already facing disruptions as a result of going over the so-called "funding cliff" at the end of September, and we urge you to work with Republicans and Democrats in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize this critical program for five years.
Community health centers across the United States have delivered affordable, accessible, and quality primary health care to patients, regardless of their ability to pay, for more than 50 years. They serve more than 27 million individuals in almost 10,000 urban and rural communities by caring for the whole person, bringing together medical and behavioral health with pharmacy services. They also serve our nation's veterans, providing care to over 330,000 veterans last year alone.
The CHCF accounts for 70% of community health centers' federal grant funding and without knowing when this funding will be renewed, community health centers are already unfortunately considering or taking steps to reduce their services, jeopardizing the care of some of our nation's most vulnerable citizens. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has estimated that without funding in 2018, approximately 2,800 health center sites would close, costing more than 50,000 jobs and endangering the health care of about 9 million patients.
The Community Health Center program has long enjoyed bipartisan support. We encourage you to work together to reach a bipartisan agreement on a five-year reauthorization that we all can endorse. Thank you for your efforts to ensure this vital program is funded so community health centers can continue to provide care to those who need it most.