Update on Federally Qualified Health Centers
HEALTH CARE TASK FORCE
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11:26 AM -- Update on Federally Qualified Health Centers
Polly Anderson, Policy Director, and Katie Jacobson, Policy Manager, Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN), began their presentation regarding Colorado's community health centers (CHCs) and distributed a packet of information to the committee (Attachment F). Ms. Jacobson explained that CCHN represents Colorado's 15 community health centers. Community health centers are nonprofit providers of medical, dental, and mental health services. The centers provide comprehensive primary care on a sliding fee scale based on ability to pay. Community health centers receive federal funding through grants, which comprise approximately 17 percent of their budgets. In addition, the centers receive reasonable cost reimbursement for Medicaid services. Under the recent federal State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization legislation, states are required to reimburse community health centers for Children's Basic Health Plan Services the same as they do for Medicaid.
Ms. Anderson described state funding sources for community health centers, including the Primary Care Fund (which is funded with tobacco tax moneys), Colorado Indigent Care Program funds, Comprehensive Primary and Preventative Care grants (which are funded from the tobacco settlement), and Cancer, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Disease grants (which are funded with tobacco tax moneys). Ms. Anderson described recent cuts to community health center funding. Ms. Anderson stated that the sunset of Referendum C in 2010 will result in a 75 percent cut to the Colorado Indigent Care Program Community Clinic Provider Reimbursement Pool. Ms. Anderson described the effect of the economic downturn on the demand for services through community health clinics and the funding allocated to community health centers through the federal stimulus act, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The stimulus act provided about $2 billion nationally over two years for CHCs. She noted that one Colorado community health center received a $1.3 million federal grant for a mobile health center. In addition, Colorado's health centers received $7.5 million in grants to respond to the increased demand for services and a total of $16.8 million in one-time capital improvement grants. Many community health centers have also applied for Facility Investment Program grants for capital improvement needs. The Colorado Health Foundation has also announced a $20 million investment in community health centers to maximize the federal stimulus moneys. In upcoming months, it may be possible for the centers to obtain health information technology grants. Ms. Anderson explained that the federal stimulus act further provided $500 million for primary care workforce development programs. She explained that these moneys are used to fund loan repayment programs, and will help to more than double the primary care workforce that is placed in the state. Senator Schwartz asked for additional information on the budget cuts experienced by community health clinics. Representative McCann asked for more information on how the expiration of Referendum C will affect funding for community health clinics.
Ms. Anderson noted that the federal stimulus funds are temporary and are not a permanent part of the federal budget. She said that clinics are creating plans for ensuring that the new operations costs for the clinics can be sustained over time. She described the Access for All Colorado Plan, which is the CCHN's plan to double the number of people in Colorado over the next 20 years who are able to have their primary care needs met because they have access to a community health center. Under the plan, 410,000 more Coloradoans could be served over five years. The cost would be approximately $210 million in capital expenses, and $473 million in general operating moneys. An additional 331 health care providers would also be necessary. She discussed the importance of maintained state funding for health care centers. The committee recessed.