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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Health group hopes for funding amid looming deadline

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Thursday, February 15, 2024   

The price of healthcare has many Americans struggling with costly prescriptions, doctor visits and hospitalizations. Uninsured people are the focus of a conference this week.

The 2024 National Association of Community Health Centers Policy and Issues Forum in Washington D.C. will also examine the use of technology to increase access to care, and reduce health disparities.

The group's Communications Director Alexandra Walker said Congress has previously funded the centers, but future funding is uncertain.

"The question is never whether or not Congress supports Community Health Centers, but whether they can all agree on a bill to pass long-term, stable funding for Community Health Centers," said Walker, "that also provides an increase so that health centers can meet the soaring demand for primary care in this country. "

Three short-term funding bills were passed in the last six months. But legislators, Walker explained, keep running right up to the deadline, and then pass a short-term funding bill.

She said board members will lobby Congress while in Washington to discuss a long-term solution. The next deadline is March 8.

Currently, NACHC is seeking Congressional reauthorization. Urban Health Plan CEO and NACHC Board Chair Paloma Hernandez said the House has passed a bill.

Another is pending in the Senate. But the legislative slowdown is causing more funding delays.

She added that the end of COVID-19 funding created challenges to recruiting and retaining staff.

"The primary care provider shortage is very real to us," said Hernandez. "There were so many people who were covered with insurance during the pandemic, and now they're in the process of having to reapply and many of them are falling off the rolls."

The centers have 35 Chicagoland locations and provide oral health, behavioral health, and pharmacy services. Hernandez said almost 32 million people were served nationwide in 2022.




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