#SubHealth Examines Funding for Bipartisan Safety Net Health Programs
WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), today held a hearing examining the extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). Funding for both programs is set to expire at the end of September.
Chairman Burgess highlighted the importance of both programs, saying, “The Community Health Center Fund plays an important role in supplementing the services that FQHCs are able to deliver to underserved communities by providing care to all Americans, regardless of income or ability to pay. …The SCHIP program provides health care coverage to over 8 million children across the nation. Through flexible capped allotments to the states, the program has been able to successfully support children while providing states with opportunities to tailor their respective programs as to best meet the needs of their respective populations.”
Mr. Mike Holmes, CEO of Cook Area Health Services (CAHS), spoke about the services his FQHC provides – medical, dental, and behavioral health care to patients in Minnesota. Speaking more broadly about FQHCs, Mr. Holmes stated, “Health centers are a cost-effective and local solution to the national challenge of providing access to primary and preventive care that is accessible, affordable, and of the highest quality. Thanks to support from bipartisan administrations and Congresses, the reach of health centers has grown significantly. Today, FQHCs represent the nation’s largest primary care network, serving more than 25 million patients in every state and territory, and are continually working to provide integrated, comprehensive care to our patients.”
Ms. Jami Snyder, Associate Commissioner for Medicaid/SCHIP Services, in the state of Texas, spoke to both the successes and challenges of the program under current law, and highlighted that Texas operates its CHIP benefit package in a way that is more comparable to the commercial insurance market. “Tailoring CHIP in this way has facilitated the establishment of a predictable program budget and the provision of CHIP services to more children, consistent with federal funding levels,” explained Ms. Snyder. “This approach has also allowed Texas to remain within its federal funding allotment, in turn, preventing the need to establish a waitlist for CHIP applicants.”
“We recognize that CHIP and community health centers play a significant role in the nation’s safety net for millions of Americans – children and pregnant women who are generally low-to-moderate income, and millions of individuals who may be medically underserved or face other barriers to care,” said full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). “Individuals and families served by these programs are not just program enrollees – they are our neighbors, and friends.”
For more information on today’s hearing, including a background memo, witness testimony, and archived webcast, click HERE.