A new report shows that states all around the country have cut funding for community health centers — bringing funding for them to a seven-year low.
Community health centers provide health services to communities that typically lack proper health care access, offering preventive services and treatment for groups such as low-income workers, ethnic or racial minorities, people with disabilities, immigrants, and parts of the gay and transgender community.
Due to the country’s economic troubles, however, demand for services has increased as more people hit hard times. However, struggling states have cut funding from the centers in an effort to deal with their own economic shortfalls.
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.
Florida was among the states that cut some of its funding. According to the survey, the state decreased its budget for community health centers by less than 1 percent.
Last year, the state lost out on millions of federal dollars for community health centers thanks to a decision to not accept federal funds because they are allocated through the Affordable Care Act. The state is currently leading the legal challenge against the health care reform law.
The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Florida has one of the highest rates of citizens without health insurance. Florida is currently among the top three states with the highest rates of uninsured residents.
Andy Behrman, the president and CEO of the Florida Association Of Community Health Centers, tells The Florida Independent the survey misstated some of the information about state funding for community health centers in Florida. Behrman says “the amount from LIP is exactly the same” and funding “has not changed.” He says this makes the survey off by about $50,000. According to Behrman, “Florida continues to value the great work in primary care of our health centers and has not reduced our funding.”