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Critical Long-Term Federal Funding Which Helps Community Health Centers In Syracuse And Across Central New York To Increase Patient Access To Primary Care Services, Expired Four Months Ago And Still Awaits Long Term Congressional Action

Senator Says Community Health Centers Provide Accessible High-Quality Healthcare To Syracuse Residents, Reduce Health Disparities Across Central New York, And Support Local Healthcare Jobs – Enriching Regional Economies Across The State; Senator Is Fighting In Congress To Fully Renew Program Immediately, Calls Lack of Long-Term Funding “Unconscionable And Unacceptable” 

Schumer: Critical Community Health Center Grant Program Is In Dire Condition

Surrounded by local families, Community Health Center leaders and employees at the Syracuse Community Healthcare Center (SCHC), U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today reaffirmed his continuing fight and commitment to restore and expand funding for Community Health Centers that so many communities and patients rely on. Schumer said community health centers like SCHC provide vital care to tens of thousands of Central New York residents who benefit from pediatric and primary care, dental care, addiction services and mental healthcare. Schumer said SCHC acts as a primary care provider for over 30,000 Central New Yorkers and employs over 250 healthcare workers. Community healthcare centers like SCHC have been without a long-term funding commitment for months and are at risk for closure, and Schumer said any further uncertainty or expiration of these programs could force SCHC to close the doors of three satellite locations, lay off dozens of employees and reduce patient services. Schumer said long-term funding for community health centers like SCHC must be restored immediately so that tens of thousands of Central New Yorkers can continue to benefit from the affordable healthcare they rely on every day.

"Simply put, this lapse in long-term federal funding is unconscionable and unacceptable. Community health centers like Syracuse Community Healthcare Center are lifelines providing care to millions of New Yorkers, and supporting tens-of-thousands of healthcare jobs. Access to care should not be a partisan issue, that is why I am calling not only for an extension but greater investment in community health centers,” said Senator Schumer. “When it comes to something as important as health care, we cannot allow a situation to arise in which our friends, family, and children cannot get the checkup or prescription they need because their health center was forced to close. I am fighting tooth and nail for a robust extension of this program so that Syracuse residents can get the healthcare they need and deserve.”

The Syracuse Community Health Center provides quality health care services for central New Yorkers by delivering cost-effective comprehensive primary health care services from its three corporations: Syracuse Community Health Center, Inc. SCHC Companies, Inc. and the SCHC Foundation, Inc.  They operate 15 different health care delivery sites in Onondaga County, including 8 school-based health center sites in a partnership with the Syracuse City School District.  SCHC has an operating budget of over $27 million, 90 percent of which it spends within the local community, and employs 259 healthcare workers. Additionally, SCHC is a primary health care provider for over 30,000 Central New Yorkers and it generates about 180,000 visits per year with an average cost of $125 per visit.

Schumer said Community Health Centers (CHC’s) are vital to New York State’s healthcare delivery system, providing primary care services to individuals with and without insurance in both rural and urban settings. According to the Community Healthcare Association of New York (CHCANYS), these centers serve over 2.2 million patients, or 1 in 9 New Yorkers, at over 750 sites statewide while employing over 30,000 full-time workers. CHCANYS estimates that CHC’s have a $4.4 billion economic impact statewide. Schumer added that as New York faces a primary care shortage, CHC’s operate as a critical backstop to patients across the economic and geographic spectrum.

Schumer explained that SCHC and community health centers across the country are supported through two sources of federal funding: annual appropriations and the Community Health Centers Fund, which expired on September 30th, 2017 but was recently temporarily extended only through March. These funds are used to maintain operations, recruit high-quality talent and to offset patient-care costs. Schumer said the expiration of the Health Centers Fund coupled with the lack of a long-term appropriations budget has created a “funding cliff” for community health centers across New York State. Since about 70 percent of their federal funding comes from the expired Health Centers Fund, also known as the Section 330 Grant, CHC’s across the country face a funding cut of that amount without congressional action. New York Community Health Centers stand to lose up to $166 million in federal funding if the Health Centers Fund is not extended. This funding reduction will result in the closure of health center sites, layoffs of providers and staff, and a loss of access to primary and preventive care for millions of New Yorkers, Schumer said. For SCHC, they would be forced to lay off nearly 75 employees, close 3 healthcare delivery sites and reduce services by $3.8 million.

Schumer was joined by leaders from several Community Health Centers across New York State, including SCHC President & CEO Leola Rodgers and CHCANYS President & CEO Rose Duhan.

“We would like to thank Senator Schumer for his unwavering support of the community health center movement and the federally qualified health center program.  We could not be more pleased that he will be visiting our health center to meet our staff and patients. Now, more than ever, SCHC and all health centers across New York State rely on the federal funding we receive to provide vital health care to the communities we serve.  SCHC is an important employer for the Syracuse community with 74 staff members compensated through our Section 330 grant.  Should SCHC lose its funding, the impact to SCHC would be the layoff of dozens of staff members, closure of all satellite locations and a significant reduction of services.  We are grateful for the Senator’s diligence and commitment to community health centers, as well as the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the valuable services we provide to our community.” Leola Rodgers, President and CEO of Syracuse Community Health Center (SCHC) 

“Senator Schumer is a true champion of community health centers, and we are grateful for his continued support during this challenging time,” said Rose Duhan, President and CEO of the Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS). “We look forward to continuing to work closely with him and his colleagues in the Senate and House to ensure that the 2.2 million patients served by New York’s community health centers are able to continue to receive uninterrupted access to the essential primary and preventive health care they need and deserve.”