A new analysis, Community Health Centers Prepare for Funding Uncertainty underscores the serious consequences for patients, communities and health centers if the Community Health Center Fund is not extended.

The Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) accounts for 72 percent of all federal grant funding received by health centers, providing a crucial source of funding that allows community health centers to serve patients without health insurance, and to provide care not covered by public or private insurance, such as dental care for adults. The authors find that community health centers are likely to lay off staff, close clinic sites, and reduce or eliminate services if Congress fails to extend this critical source of funding by September 30.

The report is based on a survey fielded from May to July 2019 that sought information on how health centers are addressing the potential delay in extension of the CHCF. The survey found that failure to extend the Fund means that after September 30, health centers will face the need to more directly reduce health care services in order to offset the loss of operating funds.

The Community Health Center Fund was designed to ensure that community health centers have a stable source of funding so that they can meet the needs of their communities. Delays and instability in this essential federal funding stream will negatively affect children, adults and the elderly in high-need communities nationwide.

The report, available on the Kaiser Family Foundation website, was produced by researchers at the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Public Charge Rule

The long-awaited public charge final rule, titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” was published by the Department of Homeland Security on August 14. The rule greatly expands the list of benefits to be considered in an individual’s public charge determination and further establishes that receipt of any public benefits at any time may become relevant to the “totality of the circumstances” test by which a person’s status as a public charge will be measured. The rule also identifies “heavily weighted” negative and positive factors that are weighed during a public charge determination. For these reasons, the rule is likely to trigger a large-scale “chilling effect,” driving immigrants away from public services generally, with the downstream impact felt across entire communities.

Geiger Gibson/RCHN CHF Research Collaborative colleagues Alexander Somodevilla and Sara Rosenbaum provide an important overview of the final rule, including a chart that details the relevant provisions of the final rule in comparison to the 2018 notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in a new blog on the GW Health Policy and Management Matters site, The New Public Charge Rule Targets Immigrant Receipt of Public Benefits.