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Community Health Centers Need Aid from Federal Lawmakers

Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 -- Congress ended a three-day shutdown of the federal government with the passage of a bill that will fund the government through Thursday.

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Lawmakers succeeded in passing a bill that included long-term funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which offers low-cost health insurance for children, but they failed to re-appropriate funds for the nation's Federally Qualified Health Centers.

Here in New York, our 60-plus federally qualified health centers provide high-quality, cost-effective primary care to 1.8 million people, regardless of their ability to pay. These are the primary care, safety net providers and the heart of healthy inner-city communities from New York City to Buffalo.

At Hometown Health Centers in Schenectady, 20,000 patients have access to nationally recognized primary care, comprehensive dental, obstetrics/gynecology, behavioral health services, telepsychiatry, pharmacy, vision care and on-site lab services.

Dysfunction in Washington will seriously affect our ability to care for many individuals who are homeless, elderly, receive mental health services, or who are best served in a language other than English.

With the potential of a $2 million reduction in federal funding this year, Hometown's services could be seriously impacted and its patients forced into expensive taxpayer-funded hospital emergency rooms for care. This is senseless.

We urge all federal lawmakers to support and pass a bill that will fund community health centers. This will ensure that our most vulnerable citizens have access to the quality, affordable health care that they deserve.

Joe Gambino
CEO, Hometown Health Centers, Schenectady

Published in the Times Union (Friday, Feb. 2, 2018)

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