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Washington D.C. – Today the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved (ACU) launched a new campaign aimed at saving and preserving the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) program. ACU was established in 1996 by participants and alumni of the NHSC, and in the 17 years since has consistently worked to enhance access to care in underserved communities.
The NHSC, created in 1972, has worked to build healthy communities by placing dedicated health care professionals in underserved areas of every State, Territory, and Possession of the United States. In 2012, nearly 10,000 NHSC clinicians provided primary, oral, mental and behavioral health care to 10.4 million underserved people. The program is not only a tremendous success story, but has become an integral part of America’s safety net system.
Today, the program is funded through a federal Trust Fund (not annual appropriations) that is set to expire on October 1, 2015. As a result, the good work of the NHSC is in serious jeopardy. If allowed to fail, communities around America would face significant staffing shortages. While these shortfalls would be damaging in any scenario, the opening of the Affordable Care Act marketplaces on October 1 and the extension of health insurance to millions of previously uninsured patients, make any cut in the NHSC potentially disastrous.
“It is critical that we do everything possible to encourage clinicians to serve in every area of our country,” ACU Executive Director Craig Kennedy, MPH said regarding the Campaign’s launch. “The National Health Service Corps is an extremely successful program that has proven results, and now is on the chopping block through an unintended consequence of the current law. We need to start today educating policy makers and the public about this important program. We can’t let it die because of inaction or apathy – it is just too important for the millions of people in underserved communities today.”
In the face of such high stakes, the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved is proud to be leading the effort to save the NHSC, while pushing for an expanded and secure future for the program. To learn more about the Campaign to Save the NHSC, check out the ACU Campaign web page, updates on ACU’s Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as the on Corps Community Day page.