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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Community health leaders press Congress for more stable funding

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Monday, February 12, 2024   

Community Health Center leaders are pleading with Congress to pass a budget deal by March 8 to avoid a partial government shutdown - arguing that the uncertainty around funding makes it difficult to function.

Funding issues are expected to dominate discussion at the annual National Association of Community Health Centers Policy and Issues Forum in Washington D.C. - which starts today.

Kimberly Chang is a family physician at Asian Health Services in Oakland, who also serves as the Speaker of the House for the NACHC's executive board.

"Well, when you don't have a stable funding path and you're relying on Continuing Resolutions," said Chang, "it's so challenging to make plans for hiring additional staff and employ those initiatives to support the increased demand for our services. And we would never turn a patient away."

Community Health Centers are clinics that see patients no matter their insurance status or ability to pay.

They also face a shortage of primary care doctors, plus inflation and a fluctuating patient population as people are dropped from the Medicaid rolls after the pandemic.

The U.S. House and Senate both have bills that would increase funding for the centers, but they're tied up in budget negotiations that have dragged on since last fall.

Paloma Hernandez is president and CEO at Urban Health Plan, and is the chair of the NACHC's board. She pointed out that Community Health Centers are the country's largest primary care network.

"Many of us provide oral health, behavioral health, pharmacy services, specialty services," said Hernandez, "and then, we provide lots of related services that address some of the social drivers of health."

Community Health Centers helped more than 31 million people in 2022 - at 15,000 clinics that employ close to 300,000 people.

California alone has more than 2,300 clinics, serving 5.6 million patients.



Disclosure: National Association of Community Health Centers contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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