November 2, 2016

National Groups Call on Congress to Extend Safety Net Funding

A coalition of national groups dedicated to the well-being of children, vulnerable people, and underserved communities today urged Congress to act swiftly to extend funding for vital safety net programs that will expire next year without legislative action.

“Without action by Congress either later this year or early in the next Congress, major disruptions will begin taking place, negatively impacting children, seniors, new mothers, rural and underserved patients and communities, clinicians, hospitals and health centers,” the organizations said in a letter to congressional leaders.

In addition to ACU, more than 20 other organizations signed the letter, including those representing hospitals, physicians and other clinicians, community health centers, social support programs, advocates for women and children, local governments, and others stakeholders.

The groups warned of “looming shortfalls and program expirations facing some of the most crucial elements of our health care system,” including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), community health centers, Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments, the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, and the National Health Service Corps.

They noted that investments and policies set to expire in 2017 have bipartisan support and form the basis of the nation’s health care safety net. But, they said, “a failure to renew these investments in a timely manner would reverberate well beyond the safety net: eliminating coverage and access for millions, raising health care costs and reversing progress made on a bipartisan basis for decades.”

The organizations called on lawmakers to follow two principles for extending the programs’ funding: that the funding not come at the expense of Medicaid or safety net programs; and that they not wait until the eleventh hour before taking action.

“Sustaining and strengthening these investments and policies will…[build] on the goals we all share in health care: better quality, increased access to care, and cost containment,” the groups wrote.

A copy of the letter is available at: