WASHINGTON, D.C. — Confronting the nation’s growing public health crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is urging Congress to dedicate funding for Community Health Centers (CHCs) for use in emergencies. The emergency fund would help CHCs prepare for and respond to public health crises like the coronavirus outbreak. CHCs are a direct link between federal resources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local communities delivering care on the ground. Yet, these essential centers are without a dedicated source of federal funding related to emergency preparedness. In light of the growing crisis to respond to COVID-19, Senator Gillibrand is urging Congress to provide future funding for a Community Health Center Preparedness Program (CHCPP) which CHC’s would be able to use in emergencies. She also highlighted additional actions she’s taking in the Senate — including calling for emergency funding to combat coronavirus and urging the Trump administration to stop sabotaging Americans’ health care and undermining our ability to effectively respond to the latest outbreak.
“Community Health Centers provide a wide-range of services to some of our most vulnerable populations and they ensure our communities have access to quality health care, especially in times of public health emergencies,” said Senator Gillibrand. “However, unlike hospitals, these vital health care resources have no dedicated source of federal funding for emergency preparedness. As our nation faces another public health crisis, I am urging Congress to provide long term and stable funding so these critical programs can be adequately prepared for public health emergencies. I will continue to fight for the resources our health centers need to continue providing this essential care.”
“Community Health Centers are on the front lines of the response to this new public health emergency, but we can’t do it without continued support from Washington. We are grateful to Senator Gillibrand for working to ensure CHCs have the resources they need to treat the 2.4 million people they serve in New York’s highest-need communities,” said Rose Duhan, Community Health Care Association of NYS President and CEO. “CHCANYS and our member health centers will continue to work hand-in-hand with federal, state, and local health officials as we face this evolving public health challenge.”
CHC’s have been on the leading edge when the nation has dealt with emergency health care challenges responding to injuries caused by hurricanes or massive fires, distributing supplies in emergencies, and providing health care during outbreaks like SARS and coronavirus. Often, CHCs are the only provider of health care and community support in rural and underserved areas. CHCs are a vital resource for testing, monitoring, and caring for those afflicted by health crises and it’s more critical than ever that these programs have dedicated funding. In a letter to appropriators, Senator Gillibrand requested at least $500 million which could be used for supplies, real-time testing/labs, surge staffing, facility improvements, influenza-like anti-viral medications, and vaccines. The proposed funding could also be used for development of a Health Information Technology (HIT) response system to manage information like screening, case management, lab surveillance, supply chain tracking, IT development, implementation, scale and spread.
Senator Gillibrand has responded further to the COVID-19 outbreak by urging the Trump administration to address the ways in which they are sabotaging health care — by trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, push junk plans, and targeting Medicaid — and undermining the nation’s ability to prepare for and respond to the coronavirus outbreak. She has also signed a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting coronavirus emergency funding details for Congress.