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Public Health

Funding Lapse For Community Health Centers Still Looms

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After a brief government shutdown, Congress was able to pass a short-term funding bill yesterday. This included a six-year extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.

But, funding remains in limbo for community health centers, which serve many CHIP families. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray checks-in with the head of one Reno-based center to learn more.

Community Health Alliance is a Federally Qualified Health Center, or FQHC, and operates six centers in the Reno-Sparks area. Chuck Duarte serves as the CEO of the center.

“We receive some federal grant support to take care of underserved communities,” Duarte explains. “For example, we get about $4.3 million from the federal government, specifically intended to provide services to the homeless and the uninsured.” If funding for CHIP isn't renewed after March, Duarte says the center could lose around $3 million, which accounts for about 18% of the budget.

Funding for community health centers lasts only until March. If Congress doesn’t renew funding after March, Duarte explains this could mean a disruption in services, including at Community Health Alliance.

“Services for about five thousand patients would be lost. We’d have to find other resources for them or they wouldn’t be served,” Duarte explains that the center's board members might have to weigh options if federal fudning falls off. “We’d have to consider things like shorter hours, program elimination and possibly some health center closures.”

Nevada Senators Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Dean Heller have previously joined a group of bipartisan senators urging Congress to support legislation that would reauthorize funding for community health centers.

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