Congress budget deal gives Summit County much needed funding for Community Care Clinic, CHIP
Early Friday morning, three hours after the federal government shut down for the second time in less than a month, President Trump signed a massive budget deal into law which restored funding for community health centers across the country, including Frisco’s own Summit Community Care Clinic.
The budget is only a stopgap to keep the government open until March 23, but it secured two years and $7 billion of funding for community health centers and clinics, which have been without assured federal funding since Sept. 30 of last year. It also secured four additional years of funding for the Child Health Insurance Program, meaning that program is funded for an entire decade.
The SCCC is a safety-net health center that provides discounted or free medical care to low-income Summit families. One of every eight Colorado residents and 27 million people nationwide rely on health centers like the SCCC for basic health care needs.
Helen Royal, CEO of the SCCC, is relieved that Congress finally came to a bipartisan agreement about the funding.
“Without that funding, we’d have to cut back on the breadth of services we offer, which would hurt our mission and our community’s most vulnerable families,” she said. “It’s a wake-up call to the fact that the funding is never guaranteed, and that we’re at the mercy of this administration and federal legislators.”
Royal said that the SCCC serves 8,000 residents in Summit, and even though they had not run out of money, it had been a struggle to budget every month with so much uncertainty about where the money was going to come from.
“It gave us some much needed assurance on funding,” she said. “We’ve been going month to month and relying a lot on the generosity of the community to provide the services we do.”
Family and Intercultural Resource Center executive director Tamara Drangstveit is also happy to see CHIP funded until at least 2028, assuring that over 1.6 million children from low-income families will not lose their health insurance.
“Obviously it’s incredibly important for a lot of families in Summit County, given how expensive health insurance is here.” Drangstveit said.
“Health insurance is not only important for financial reasons, but for kids, having health insurance often leads to better school attendance and performance in school, as well as fewer behavior problems,” she said.
County Commissioner Dan Gibbs lauded the bipartisan effort to fund community health centers and CHIP.
“It’s really exciting. The community health care centers needed certainty, and having it until 2019 is a big positive. And for the hundreds of kids in our community who rely on CHIP, it was critical to get that funding assured long-term,” he said.
The two health care initiatives, which had received overwhelming bipartisan support in the past, had been used as bargaining chips during budget negotiations for months as Washington sees unprecedented levels of partisan gridlock. Royal attributes the positive developments to fierce advocacy from locals and ordinary citizens across the country.
“People sent over 220,000 emails to their legislators about these issues,” Royal said. “They made more than 35,000 phone calls, 15,000 messages on social media. They had a lot of meetings with Congress and staff. People really mobilized to advocate for health centers, and it shows that making an effort to contact your representatives has a real impact on our daily lives.”
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