JERSEY CITY, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, today visited Metropolitan Family Health Network where he announced a total of $45,797,890 in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs) in New Jersey, including $2,493,164 for Metropolitan. The federal funding supports the operations of local FQHCs, which serve hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans every year.
Despite delays by Republicans in Congress to fund the National Health Center Program—threatening the closure of community health centers across the state that provide quality, affordable health care to vulnerable communities—the senator secured a two-year extension of the program at $7.8 billion and an additional $1.6 billion in the recent omnibus spending package that passed in March.
“Today is a great day for patients, for families, and for community health providers across New Jersey,” said Sen. Menendez. “More than three-quarters of the half-million New Jerseyans who rely on community health centers come from minority communities or families that live just a paycheck away from poverty. I know this $45 million infusion will be well-spent serving families’ primary care needs, providing women with annual exams and access to low-cost birth control, providing dental care to our children, or treating mental illness and addiction.”
“As the former Mayor of Newark, I know the incredible obstacles some of our most vulnerable families face in accessing healthcare,” said Sen. Booker. “By supporting New Jersey's federally qualified health centers, these funds will help address these health inequities by bringing high-quality, affordable healthcare services into some of our most underserved communities. Now more than ever, it’s imperative we remain committed to protecting federal funding for FQHCs in order to fill service gaps and help those most in need.”
In New Jersey, 24 community health centers operate 135 sites, providing preventive and primary health care services to 537,960 New Jerseyans. When federal funding for community health centers was put on the verge of lapsing by Congressional Republicans last September, Sen. Menendez held a roundtable discussion with leaders of some of New Jersey’s leading health centers to discuss and address their concerns regarding the Health Center funding cliff. This roundtable led to the senator co-leading a letter signed by 70 Senators to leadership requesting immediate action to avoid the funding cliff.
“FQHCs are essential to New Jersey’s healthcare system,” said New Jersey Primary Care Association (NJPCA) President and CEO Jillian Hudspeth. “Without much needed funding, our Health Centers would be unable to provide care to the state’s most underserved populations. Health Centers deliver primary and preventative care so that people can get their vaccinations, screenings, and check-ups rather than ending up in the emergency rooms. As Federally Qualified Health Centers, we are proud to provide high quality healthcare and make good use of the federal dollars we receive.”
“The nearly 17,000 women, men and children Metropolitan Family Health Network cares for each year are like family to us. About 85% are either uninsured or dependent upon Medicaid and Medicare,” said Joan Dublin, RN, MPA, ACHE, President & CEO, Metropolitan Family Health Network. “We are grateful to Senator Menendez, who has been our strong advocate, and has been instrumental in helping us—and the other New Jersey Primary Care Association community health centers—in maintaining the funding from HRSA that we desperately need. Without that funding we would have cut the number of doctors, and reduce services and hours. That would mean we wouldn’t be able to care for as many people. Imagine having to tell the members of your family that you can’t provide them with the care they need.”
The following FQHCs received awards:
Sen. Menendez supported an amendment to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provided FQHCs with $11 billion in mandatory funding over five years for new and existing programs and activities to expand access to primary care services. He also authored a second provision in the ACA that requires private insurance plans on the exchange to fully reimburse 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.
The senator was joined at the news conference by Hudspeth, Dublin, Project H.O.P.E. Director of Mental Health Brian Colangelo, Zufall Health Director of Government Programs Shade W. Cronan, and Metropolitan patients Robert Moore of Jersey City and Tyranica Cooper of Irvington, who shared their personal stories.
“Federally Qualified Health Centers in New Jersey treat the most challenged and needy patients in our communities who would otherwise go unserved and untreated. Continued funding for FQHCs is essential not just for the individuals served but to reduce the burden on the system,” said Colangelo.
“Community health centers are a model for primary medical, dental, and behavioral health care,”
Cronan said. “Stable funding is critical for our operations and allows us to plan and recruit the best providers and staff that we can. All of this with the goal of improving the health outcomes of all of our patients.”
Sen. Menendez has been twice been honored for his long time advocacy on behalf of FQHC receiving 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.
September 16, 2021
September 15, 2021