Federal Updates

posted in: June 2019 Edition | 0

Community Health Center Funding Bills:
Members of the Senate and House of Representatives have been busy on Capitol Hill drafting legislation that would extend health center funding for 5 years. At this point, NACHC has not taken a position on any of these bills as there will be significant refinement and negotiations among the members before the bills head to committee. The current list of bills to extend health center funding are as follows:

Long Term Senate Funding (5 years)
Senate CHIME Act (S. 106) – Introduced in the Senate by Sens. Roy Blunt (MO) and Debbie Stabenow (MI).
Senate HELP Bill (S. 192) – Introduced in the Senate by Sens. Lamar Alexander (TN) and Patty Murray (WA).
Senate Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act of 2019 Bill (S. 962) – Introduced in the Senate on by Sen. Bernard Sanders (VT).

Note: For a side-by-side comparison of Senate bills click HERE.

Long Term House Funding (5 years)
House CHIME Act (H.R. 2328) – Introduced in the House by Reps. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-1) and Elise Stefanik (NY-21).
House Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act of 2019 Bill (H.R. 1943) – Introduced in the House by Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC06).

Fiscal Cliff Preparations/Next Steps:
The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing Tuesday on health center extenders, which covered a number of bills related to health center funding, the Teaching Health Center program, the National Health Service Corps and other key health care priorities. In short, EVERYONE on both sides of the political aisle voiced strong support for the need to reauthorize these important programs. They didn’t favor any one approach and the only concerns that were raised dealt with offsets and how to pay for the expanded programs. Several members (ranking and minority) made comments that they need to find “common ground” and move this process along much faster than the last funding cycle. The Members mentioned the Sept. 30 deadline repeatedly so if there is any good news at this point, they are keenly aware of the need to act quickly and are in agreement of the need for a bipartisan solution.

In terms of next steps, NACHC has prepared a summer grassroots mobilization strategy that will serve as a framework for our advocacy and outreach efforts over the next few months. To this end, MPCA will be reaching out to health centers in the next week to begin collecting patient stories and examples of operational challenges (e.g., provider recruitment and retention issues) that may result if funding is not reauthorized before the September deadline. As we did the last go-round, MPCA will utilize this information – and other materials – to develop an electronic “Fiscal Cliff Toolkit” for health centers to use in their outreach and communications with members of Maine’s Congressional delegation.

House Committee Passes FY20 Spending Bill With Additional Health Center Funding
The Appropriations Committee, which approves part of our community health center funding, recently voted to approve the FY20 Labor-HHS-Education Spending bill. The bill includes an $11.7 billion increase over the current funding level for workforce, health care, and education programs in FY20 — $47.8 billion more than what President Trump requested. This would provide $1.68 billion for health centers – a $50 million boost to increase the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and reduce the transmission of HIV. The inclusion of new dollars for health centers is a positive sign of Congress’ support. The entire House will vote on the bill in the coming weeks and the Senate will begin working on their spending bills after Memorial Day. If you are interested in reading a summary of the House spending bill click HERE.

Bill to Increase Number of Teaching Health Centers Introduced in House of Representatives
Representatives Raul Ruiz (D–CA) & Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R–WA) have introduced the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act of 2019. This bill would extend funding for the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program through 2024, and create 250 new residency slots at teaching health centers over the duration of five years. The bill also boosts the total number of Teaching Health Centers from 56 to 72 over the course of five years, and gives more primary care doctors a chance to train at Community Health Centers. You can view the legislation HERE.

NACHC Tracking & Responding to Administrative Actions
For recent Federal rules and guidance impacting health centers and patients click HERE.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Title X Gag Rule
A U.S. District Court judge in Eastern Washington recently slapped a nationwide preliminary injunction on the Trump administration’s Title X “gag rule” that would bar family planning clinics that receive federal dollar from offering abortion services or abortion referrals. “There is no public interest in perpetuating unlawful agency action,” Judge Stanley Bastian said in delivering the injunction.

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