128 days after the GOP Congress abandoned them, community health centers can’t wait any longer

128 days after the GOP Congress abandoned them, community health centers can’t wait any longer

Here’s your daily reminder that community health centers haven’t been funded for 128 days and somewhere around 27 million people may soon have no more access to health care at the nearly 10,000 clinics dotted around the nation. The funding crisis is already happening.

“We are caught up in Washington’s political dysfunction,” said Carmela Castellano-Garcia, CEO of the California Primary Care Association. “These centers are a lifeline for millions of people, especially in rural areas where they may be the only health care provider for miles around.” […]

Nationwide, 20 percent of health centers have instituted a hiring freeze already, and 4 percent have laid off staff. Another 53 percent said they might lay off staff if federal funding is not forthcoming, according to a survey of community health centers by George Washington University and Kaiser Family Foundation researchers released last week. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

The reasons for Congress’ delayed action on funding is not altogether clear.

“We don’t really know why,” said Dan Hawkins, senior vice president of the National Association of Community Health Centers in Bethesda, Md. “But this has gone on long enough. Centers nationwide are feeling the pain. They need stable funding to plan and operate effectively.”

Why? Because Republicans are in control of the House, the Senate, and the White House and because poor people’s health makes a tempting hostage. Hurting people is the default for Republicans when it comes to negotiating with Democrats to govern. Because they won’t actually negotiate, they won’t compromise. They take hostages and start shooting them until Democrats cave, or they face so much pressure from voters that they have to relent.

Jam the phone lines of House and Senate Republicans. Call (202) 224-3121, and tell them to stop holding people’s health care hostage.

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