Stateline Area Health Centers Need Federal Funding Fix


Leaders from a Beloit Community Health Center join others on a Capitol Hill urging Congress to pass a bill to fund community health centers.

The House has included the funding in its bill to keep the government from shutting down, but its passage in the Senate is uncertain.  Congress let funding for community health centers lapse back in September.  The centers provide primary care for low-income people on both sides of the Stateline.

The Wisconsin leaders say local centers have been able to stretch their funds to this point, but if Congress does not strike a deal this week to extend funding, patients will start to feel the impact.

The representatives met with lawmakers Tuesday to explain how the funding situation impacts people in Wisconsin. 

First they met with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, then with staffers from Sen. Ron Johnson’s office.  Similar meetings with representatives from Illinois community health centers happened with Sen. Dick Durbin as well.

They want Congress to include community health center funding in any bill they pass to keep the government open.

The CEO of a community health center in Beloit says she’s tired of patients being caught up in all the bickering in Washington.

“It’s very frustrating” Julie Sprecher, Community Health Systems CEO, told ‘Eyewitness News’ Capitol Bureau Reporter Jessica Smith.  “I see those patients every day. I see what we’re able to do for them, and to know that we might not be able to do that going forward, it’s pretty frustrating.”

Sen. Baldwin agrees.  “We have to stop this constant kicking the can down the road and resolve these critical issues — CHC funding, veteran healthcare funding, opioid epidemic funding.”

The House has proposed a short-term spending bill that would fund community health centers for two years.  The Senate is expected to act on the budget bill by Friday, and Baldwin says she would like to see the funding extended beyond two years.

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