U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., says he believes Congress will eventually reauthorize federal funding for the Community Health Center Fund, which constitutes the largest chunk of federal money that goes to community health centers. Murphy gave the assurance to health care providers and clients at an OPTIMUS Health Care clinic in Bridgeport’s East Side neighborhood on Thursday.
Ludwig Spinelli, CEO of OPTIMUS Health Care, told Murphy that uncertainty about the federal funding is making it difficult for his agency. “We bought a beautiful bank across the street. We were going to make it our behavioral health center. Nothing’s happened because we don’t know what our budget is going to be. The bank doesn’t want hear that funding may come.”
Congress missed its September deadline to reauthorize money for the Community Health Center Fund, despite broad bipartisan support. The fund was created in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act. Since then, it’s provided $3.6 billion to health centers across the country every two years.
Murphy, who’s a Democrat, accuses Republicans of now politicizing the funding. “I unfortunately think that health centers are being treated a little bit like the DREAMers. Republicans know that Democrats care more, so they are using this issue as ransom to get something else.”
Murphy says he doesn’t know what congressional Republicans final demand will be. But if the funds are not reauthorized before March, hundreds of community health center workers could lose their jobs and thousands of Connecticut residents would lose access to healthcare.