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Get to Know Community Health Center Funding

 
Community health centers rely on federal funding to provide comprehensive care to all patients that come through their doors. Read on to learn more about the health center funding structure and what's currently at stake.
 
Health centers receive funding from two main federal sources, mandatory funding in the form of the Community Health Center Fund and discretionary funding that Congress must through the annual appropriations process. 
 
What is the Community Health Center Fund? 
The Community Health Center Fund was created in 2010 and initially authorized for 5 years. The Community Health Center Fund has subsequently been authorized on four different occasions for varying intervals. The latest extension occurred in December of 2020, when Congress passed a year-end spending package including $4 billion per year for the Community Health Center Fund through FY23.1

Other reauthorizations for primary care workforce programs, including the National Health Service Corps, and the Teaching Health Centers program coincide with the Community Health Center Fund reauthorization. These programs were extended at $310 million per year and $126.5 million per year, respectively, through FY23. Before the end of FY23 next September, Congress will have to pass an extension of the Community Health Center Fund or health centers will face a funding cliff and be at risk of losing vital resources. 
 
What are discretionary appropriations? 
Each year, Congress must pass 12 appropriations bills to keep the government funded. If Congress fails to pass a comprehensive spending bill by the end of the fiscal year on September 30, Congress must pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government funded at current levels and avert a government shutdown. 

Congress passed several short-term continuing resolutions from the end of 2021 into 2022 before passing an omnibus spending bill. The omnibus spending bill included multiple appropriations bills in one package and included $1.7B in appropriations for community health centers. The $1.7B encompassed funding for Ending the HIV epidemic, early childhood development, school-based health centers, cancer screening, and Native Hawaiian Health Care. 

For FY23, the House of Representatives already passed several of the 12 appropriations bills. The Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, which includes $1.9B in funding for community health centers did not pass the House before Congress went on recess in August. The Senate Appropriations Committee released its draft of the FY23 Labor-HHS-spending bill, which also includes $1.9B for community health centers.  
 
What comes next for community health center funding? 
Congress is currently on recess, with the Senate returning on September 6 and the House returning on September 13, leaving only a few weeks before the end of this fiscal year. Congress will likely pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government funded. In addition to appropriations, Congress must also address the Community Health Center Fund before the end of FY23. 
 
How You Can Support Community Health Center Funding
Community health center advocates have the opportunity to advance health center priorities through appropriations and investments in the Community Health Center Fund. Sign up as health center advocate to receive action alerts that urge Congress to take action for community health centers. 
 
 
 
[1] Federal Grant Funding. (2022). National Association of Community Health Centers. Retrieved from https://www.nachc.org/focus-areas/policy-matters/health-center-funding/federal-grant-funding/
 
 
 

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