26 Nov Congress Provides Additional Short-Term Funding for Community Health Centers
Second Continuing Resolution for Short-Term Funding Passes
The president signed a Continuing Resolution (CR) on the evening of Thursday, November 21. The CR provides a short-term funding solution for the federal government and includes stopgap funding for a list of federal grant programs, including the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF), the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) programs. The deadline for this new extension is Friday, December 20, giving Members of Congress another month to reach a compromise which must address more hot-button political issues such as the southern boarder wall and surprise billing measures. While this inclusion in the new CR is a reassurance that health centers will not go without funding while Members of Congress continue to negotiate around several controversial issues, a lack of long-term stability poses its own challenges for health centers. Here’s what you need to know about the new bill:
What Changes With the Passing of This New CR?
The most significant difference between this CR and the previous one is the shorter length of time between the signing of the resolution and the new deadline for a funding solution. We view this shorter extension with optimism, especially after new reports were released over the weekend that the topline numbers for the congressional budget have been agreed upon. A shorter period of time before the new deadline could indicate that congress is closer to reaching a long-term budget agreement, and hopefully along with it, a long-term funding solution for health center programs. This is all dependent on how easily committees are able to work through the hot-button issues mentioned above. We cannot determine whether we will be met with a long-term solution or another CR when the December 20 deadline hits.
This new bill largely functions like the previous resolution passed by Congress in September. Our blog post explaining the first CR goes into more depth about what a CR means for health center funding, but ultimately this resolution allows health centers to continue to receive both discretionary and mandatory federal funding at the levels agreed upon in the FY19 budget. Health centers can rely on this funding until the December 20 deadline, at which point federal funding is once again at risk of a lapse without action from Congress.
What Can We Expect and How Can I Help in the Coming Weeks?
Upon Congress’ return from their Thanksgiving recess, after lawmakers will renew their efforts to reach an agreement on pending items before the December 20 deadline. We know that every day Congress does not pass a long-term funding bill for health centers is another day that CHCs across the country are facing challenges as a result of these short-term extensions. We will continue to work hard to ensure Members of Congress understand how essential health centers are to their communities, and how important it is that Congress reaches a compromise for the long-term, robust renewal of Community Health Center programs.
There is much to do and now even less time than before to do it, and so we are calling on our advocates to join us in reminding Members of Congress every day about the urgency of our situation. We need you to add your voice to the thousands of health center advocates nationwide who are speaking out in support of a long-term extension of our funding. You’ll find that our HCAdvocacy Fall Funding Blitz Toolkit is your one-stop-shop for all of your advocacy tools and information. Now more than ever, we need your help in raising our voices and getting Congress to get long-term funding across that finish line before December 20!