WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), today introduced the Community Health Care Reauthorization Act to prevent a lapse in funding when the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF), the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) programs expire on September 30th. Cassidy’s legislation mirrors that which the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee passed in May with a unanimously bipartisan vote of 49-0.
“Community health centers, the National Health Service Corps and other programs in this legislation are crucial in providing care to underserved areas, especially in rural communities,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This bill reflects the overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation passed out of committee in the House. It is our best chance to avert a funding crisis in the few legislative days we have left before the end of the fiscal year.”
“On behalf of the 1,400 health centers across the nation and the 30 million patients they serve via almost 15,000 health care delivery sites, we appreciate the leadership by Senator Bill Cassidy in introducing the Community Health Care Reauthorization Act,” said Rachel A. Gonzales-Hanson, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer at the National Association of Community Health Centers. “This legislation will help address gaps in care by providing additional funding to expand services and locations and support the future health center workforce. Health centers need certainty and predictability to plan, and that is why we need Congress to enact bipartisan legislation to extend funding before the September deadline.”
“We applaud the continued support of Senator Bill Cassidy for the nation’s Community Health Centers, and we are especially grateful on behalf of the 41 health centers and lookalikes operating and serving 470,000 individuals in his home state of Louisiana,” said Raegan A. Carter, Director of Health Policy & Governmental Affairs for the Louisiana Primary Care Association. “The Community Health Care Reauthorization Act will assist in expanding Community Health Center services, personnel, and locations to address the critical healthcare workforce shortage in Louisiana. This legislation coupled with bipartisan support for federal funding will secure our ability to not only address the provider shortage but also to continue improving healthcare access and equity and addressing social barriers to care for all Louisianans.”
The Community Health Center Fund currently receives $4 billion in federal funding per year. Cassidy’s bill and the bipartisan bill unanimously passed out of the E&C Committee would extend and increase this funding at $4.2 billion a year for the next two years.
During the Committee’s hearing on CHCs in early March, Cassidy stressed their importance and the danger of missing the September 30th deadline to reauthorize the CHCF in a fiscally responsible manner.
Additionally, the National Health Service Corps is funded at $350 million for two years, an increase of 40 million per year. Funding for the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program scales up from $175 million to $275 million over six years, which brings the program’s funding to $148.5 million more than current levels.
Additionally, funding for CHCF and NHSC will also be extended at a pro-rated amount from the end of fiscal year 2025 to calendar year 2025 to ensure stability in funding.
During a HELP Labor markup last month, the first partisan one held by the committee since 2009, Cassidy sounded the alarm that unreasonable demands and committee time being used to pursue partisan priorities with no chance of passing Congress was impeding the committee from making needed progress on health care reauthorizations.
Unlike the House bill, the legislation does not include a reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program and Special Diabetes Program for Indians given that the HELP Committee already reported out legislation on that issue in June.