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Florida's Community Health Centers Worry About Federal Funding

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Anxiety is high among leaders at community health centers after Congress failed to meet a deadline to reauthorize their funding over the weekend.

Leaders at the nearly 50 centers in Florida that depend on the funding are worried, as these primary care facilities serve over one million patients annually across the state.

If the money is not re-authorized by December 31, health centers with funding cycles that begin in January would start the year with nothing from the federal government.

Andy Behrman, CEO of the Florida Association of Community Health Centers, says that could force eight centers to close initially, which could impact thousands of patients, many who are uninsured.

Behrman says local centers are trying to plan to see whether they can stay afloat without federal dollars.

"So it's still a little bit premature for anybody to shut the door, but it's something that has to be discussed," he said.

Florida’s community health centers range in size, with larger locations serving as many as 70,000 patients, and small, rural centers serving more like 4,000 patients.

Behrman says it’s these smaller centers he’s most concerned about as they wait for Congress to act.

"To a small center, the federal dollars that they get may be a much larger component of their operating budget," he said.

Behrman says he's optimistic lawmakers will take up the issue this year, it's just unclear when. 

Copyright 2017 Health News Florida

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
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