Will you know what you’ve lost?

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Washington has a large agenda and funding for health care in rural communities and the uninsured are low on the priority list.

With millions of Americans losing their health insurance from the repeal of Obamacare and the Community Health Centers (CHCs) program facing a 70 percent reduction in funding, affordable health care for many, especially in rural areas, is in jeopardy.

Health centers are the largest primary care delivery system in the U.S., serving 29 million people in 2016.

Email newsletter signup

There are over 10,000 health centers in the country with 55 percent of them serving rural communities.

You’ve heard, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone,” and health centers across the country are asking communities to recognize our value before it’s too late. 

CHCs are facing a “fiscal cliff,” an immediate 70 percent reduction in funding, unless Congress takes action. 

Many of you can imagine the dramatic steps you would need to take if 70 percent of your income was to suddenly stop. 

As we get closer to the deadline, CHCs across the country are faced with making difficult budget decisions.

Even if temporary, uncertainty of funding has some health centers worrying about a disruption to what we do best — caring for patients.

For more than 50 years, health centers have been successful because of strong bi-partisanship in Congress.

CHCs demonstrate high-quality care at cost-effective rates, improve health outcomes and provide integrated care with medical, dental, behavioral health and pharmacy services.

These are federal dollars invested in your community and enable health centers to meet the needs of your community.

In the Fifth Congressional District alone, there are six federally-funded health center organizations operating 26 different locations and leveraging $21 million in federal investments to serve more than 97,000 patients. 

Central Virginia Health Services (CVHS) operates six of the locations in this district, serving over 20,000 patients and employing 205 people, making it the fifth largest employer in Buckingham County.

CVHS is proud to be the first health center in Virginia and we want to ensure health centers are here to serve anyone who needs us.

We are optimistic that this will be resolved eventually, but not without public support.

Please consider asking your member of Congress to fix the cliff and save our health centers.

You can help by making a simple call to 1-866-456-3949, entering your zip code when prompted and leaving the message “Fix the Cliff and save our health centers.”

For more information, please contact me or Amanda Palmore at (434) 581-4073.

Paula Tomko is interim executive director of Central Virginia Health Services. Her email address is paulatomko@cvhsinc.org.