Congress is considering legislation that would avert a funding cliff for providers within the Medicare program, commonly referred to as the “doc-fix” bill. In a change from previous years, Congress is on the verge of a permanent fix for the issue and will be considering the package this week.
In addition to the permanent fix for the Medicare payment issue, Congress has also included several critical provisions that extend funding for other programs facing funding cliffs, including the National Health Service Corps! The package currently includes a 2 year funding extension for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Community Health Centers, and the Teaching Health Centers program. The NHSC would be funded at the current level of $287.4 million for the next two years.
As you know, ACU has been actively working to raise the profile of the NHSC funding issue. After being funded through a trust fund for the past five years, all funding for the NHSC ends on October 1 of this year, which would be catastrophic for the program and the communities it serves. Today more than 9,000 providers serve nearly 10 million people through the NHSC program. Without a new funding stream, the program would end later this year.
The good news is that Congress has recognized the value of the program and included it in the SGR package! Now we need your help pushing Congress to pass this bill and the funding provided to the NHSC. Because this is a complex piece of legislation, this is NOT A DONE DEAL. There are still negotiations about what will be in the final bill and we need your help to let Congress know we strongly support the NHSC funding extension!