States Cut Community Health Center Funding

Just as demand for services at community health centers has been projected to increase — both because of the recession and the health law’s expansions in access to medical care — state funding for these centers has reached a seven-year low for fiscal year 2012, according to a new report.

A survey by the National Association of Community Health Centers found 35 states will provide centers with direct funding, which excludes Medicaid and federal funding, this year. The $335 million overall is a 15 percent decline from fiscal year 2011. Six states are cutting funds more than 30 percent, with Washington state completely wiping out last year’s $10.2 million for centers.

Source: National Association of Community Health Centers

At the federal level, the situation is more complicated. In FY 2011, there was a nearly 28 percent decrease in the annual appropriations for community health centers, down $604 million from $2.19 billion in 2010, according to the NACHC. However, at the same time, the 2010 health law provided $11 billion for expansion of health center services and some of that money has helped to offset the loss.

“That money was supposed to go toward community health center growth, but instead it’s being diverted to covering operating costs,” said Amy Simmons, an NACHC spokeswoman.

FY 2012 appropriations remain up in the air and deficit reduction talks could also alter the financial outlook for centers, which have seen an increase in uninsured patients since the recession. Centers are slated to receive another $1.2 billion in mandatory funding this fiscal year from the health law.