Menendez Introduces Legislation to Bolster Community Health Centers

Menendez Introduces Legislation to Bolster Community Health Centers

More than half a million NJans rely on CHC services every year

NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, today introduced legislation to bolster New Jersey’s community health centers (CHCs) and expand access to vital heath care services for hundreds of thousands across the state. CHCs provide a full range of medical care from pediatric and women’s health care to behavioral health services and dental care, and are instrumental in the fight against New Jersey’s growing opioid epidemic.

“Our community health centers are critical to ensuring every New Jersey family—regardless of how much they make or where they live—have access to affordable, quality health care they need.” said Sen. Menendez. “As I travel up and down the state, I see firsthand how New Jerseyans benefit from the countless services CHCs provide to women, children and seniors. And as Republicans in Congress continue to do all they can to undermine the Affordable Care Act, I’ll fight to make sure our health centers get the federal resources we need to keep them operating in communities all across our state.” 

The Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act of 2019 would provide a five-year extension of mandatory CHC funding, which expires in September. New Jersey has 24 health centers operating 134 sites, providing preventative and primary health care services to nearly 538,000 individuals. 

“Twenty-four community health centers provide primary and preventative care to over half a million people at 134 sites in New Jersey. That means essential services like physical, dental and behavioral health care are at risk, if we do not see a funding extension. If Federally Qualified Health Center funding lapses in September, health centers will have to cut staff, shorten hours, and even cut services. We commend Senator Menendez for leading the effort to ensure that these critical services stay intact for the next five years,” said New Jersey Primary Care Association President and CEO, Jillian Hudspeth.

As an author of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Sen. Menendez championed an amendment that provided CHCs with $11 billion in mandatory funding over five years, expiring in 2015, for new and existing programs to expand access to primary care services. Since 2015, Sen. Menendez has helped secure separate, two-year extensions for the program. Most recently, he successfully fought for two additional years of mandatory funding at $7.8 billion in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and $1.63 billion for FY19 in discretionary dollars in the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services and Education spending package for a total of $5.63 billion for the current fiscal year.

Sen. Menendez also supported an amendment included in the ACA final passage that requires private insurance plans on the exchange to fully reimburse Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) at no less than the same rate as Medicaid in order to ensure the economic vitality of community health centers and properly recognize them for the valuable role they play in the American health care system.

Sen. Menendez has been honored multiple times for his long time advocacy on behalf of FQHCs, having receiving the Community Health Center Hero Award in 2018, the Champion for Community Health Centers Award in 2016, and the Distinguished Community Health Champion Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) in 2012. 

The CHIME Act of 2019 is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Cory Gardner (D-Colo.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tammy Baldwin (D-Mich.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Tester (D-Mont.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Angus King (I-Maine), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.).

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