ACU Executive Director Amanda Pears Kelly testifies on the value of community health centers at the Senate HELP Committee Hearing.

With nearly a third of Americans lacking access to primary care, the work of community health centers (CHCs) is more crucial than ever. Yet health centers are facing unprecedented challenges: the Medicaid unwinding process is expected to tremendously impact CHCs, decreasing revenues and diminishing patient capacity. The 340B Drug Pricing Program that many CHCs rely on to improve patients’ access to crucial medications has also suffered significant setbacks, as recent court rulings allow further restrictions to organizations’ use of the program. And the end of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding further limits health centers’ ability to sustain or expand care for populations that need it most.

More investment is needed to support health centers’ lifesaving work, and the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved (ACU)’s Executive Director Amanda Pears Kelly testified earlier today to the value of health centers and the need for expanded investment in a U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing, “Community Health Centers: Saving Lives, Saving Money,” in Washington, D.C.

Ben Harvey, CEO of the Indiana Primary Health Care Association, speaks about CHCs at the Senate Hearing on Health Centers.

“Funding community health centers doesn’t just save lives; it saves money,” said Pears Kelly, who is also Chief Executive Officer of Advocates for Community Health. “They have a proven track record of innovation and savings, and they drive better health outcomes while responding to the localized needs of their communities . . . They’re poised to step up and provide care to as many patients who are in need as possible. But it really comes down to the investment that is made allowing them to do so.” Pears Kelly also stressed the vital importance of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the Teaching Health Center program in staffing and training the workforce that make CHCs’ work possible. Additionally, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) highlighted that the NHSC has helped bolster the workforce within her own state.

Ben Harvey, CEO of ACU Member Indiana Primary Health Care Association, also testified to health centers’ incredible value before the HELP Committee. “I stand as a witness not only to the impact that health centers have on the healthcare system, but also on individual Americans and the communities they serve,” said Harvey. “[CHCs] create cost-savings despite serving patient populations with complex needs and a variety of chronic conditions. Health centers need continued, sustained funding.”

“Whether measured in lives or dollars, there is no better investment than the community health center program,” said Pears Kelly.

Resources to Help Prepare for Medicaid Unwinding

The Biden Administration has announced its intention to end the COVID Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11. The PHE incentivized states to keep Medicaid beneficiaries continuously enrolled, and its end will have significant implications for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid: the resulting “Medicaid unwinding” is expected to have massive impacts on community health centers (CHCs). Read our policy analysis to learn more about what’s at stake, how Congress should respond, and what we can do.

Join Our Webinar on Best Practices to Prepare for Unwinding

Wednesday, March 22: 1-2 p.m. ET

As Medicaid unwinding approaches, health centers have an important role to play in supporting patients as they determine if they are still eligible, need to renew coverage, or find new sources of coverage. Join us at 1 p.m. ET on Mar. 22 for a discussion on best practices for preparing for Medicaid unwinding. The Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) in Phoenix, AZ, and Albany Area Primary Health Care (AAPHC) in Albany, GA, will share how their CHCs have been preparing for redeterminations and the unwinding. Closed captioning is available for this webinar.

Read Our Supporting Resources

Stay Up-to-Date: Become an ACU Advocate!

ACU will continue to advocate for CHCs and other vital programs including the National Health Service Corps far beyond this Senate hearing on health centers, and we need your support to raise the voices of our providers, patients, and partners alike: join our advocacy network. Do you have further questions or need help getting started with advocacy at your health center? Please contact Jordan Marshall, ACU’s Deputy Director of Policy & Advocacy.