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Since you’ve no doubt been watching the news, you are probably wondering what the “sequester” or across the board federal budget cuts mean to CHP. The quick answer is nothing. . . . YET. With Congress and the Administration having failed to stop the sequester, on March 1st $85 billion in funding reductions in the federal budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 (October 2012-September 2013) went into effect. Individual health centers like CHP will likely not feel the possible impact of sequestration immediately, since our grant year goes through the end of April. IF nothing changes with the federal FY 2013 budget (more on that below), we could see our base grant (remember, that grant makes up about 40% of our overall budget) reduced in the range of 5% to 9% when it renews in May. IF that occurs, our strong reserves (like a rainy day savings account) will give us time to problem solve about how to move forward with the least impact on our patients, staff, and the communities we serve. The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) reports that if the sequester stays put and is not changed in the FY 2013 budget process, across the country, health center program funding would be reduced by a total of $120 million and 900,000 total current and future patients could lose access to care.
So, when does the government make a FY 2013 budget, you might ask?? Well, they are supposed to do it in September, so that October 2012 starts with a FY 2013 budget. Last fall, before the election, the legislators were unwilling to do anything controversial that might affect their reelection campaigns, so they decided to fund the government for 6 months on a “continuing resolution” or CR. Basically, that means that from Oct 2012 – March 2013, federal spending stayed at the same levels as they were before October 2012. BUT, after March 27th, 2013, the federal government no longer has an operating budget in place and could face a shutdown. Between now and March 27th, 2013, there will be significant budget negotiations to possibly amend the sequester cuts and devise a FY 2013 budget to fund the government through September 2013. The president’s request for funding of the Health Centers program for FY2013 is for an overall funding level of $3.1 billion which would include a $300 million increase in funding available under the Affordable Care Act Health Center Fund. This funding level would mitigate the effects of the sequester cuts, allowing health centers to maintain current operations, and could possibly provide all existing health centers a base grant adjustment, and/or possible service expansion funding opportunities.
In summary, in the face of the federal budget cuts known as “sequestration” and the upcoming FY 2013 budget battle, we are watching and waiting patiently to learn the effects on CHP, knowing that if cuts do take place, we have funding reserves to allow us time to plan for any changes necessary moving forward. We are also reaching out to our federal legislators – Rep. Steve Daines, Sen. Max Baucus, and Sen. Jon Tester – to let them know how cuts will impact our patients, staff, and the communities we serve. You can do the same if you so desire:
Contact your Member of Congress TODAY and ask them to support $3.1 billion in funding for Health Centers in FY2013 and remind them of the importance of ensuring the entire $300 million increase is put directly into health center services immediately -- call toll-free 1-866-456-3949.
Please let me know if you’d like further information on how the goings on at the national OR state level could affect CHP.