Community clinics are an indispensable component of the health care infrastructure in the United States. They are widely regarded as a cost-effective way to provide basic care, saving the health care system billions of dollars every year. Clinics serve over 20 million people in America, and one out of three people in poverty rely on them for their medical needs. Community clinics are also critical for access to care for immigrants, many of whom have been shut out of health insurance coverage post-reform.
Because of their value to the country, the recent federal health reform law provided for a major expansion of clinics. This expansion would be a godsend to underserved health care markets – rural communities, low-income urban areas, and communities of color long neglected by the for-profit entities that dominate our health care system.
The U.S. House of Representatives apparently has another plan, though. They just voted to reduce funding for community clinics by $1.1 billion for this year, a 46% cut. Not next year or some point in the distant future – right now!
But wait, there is more. The National Health Service Corps, which provides incentives for primary health care professionals to work in underserved communities across the country, is completely eliminated in the House budget. A network of 7,500 primary health care professionals serving 10,000 sites in neglected areas is to be terminated immediately.
This is thoughtless anti-government ideology run mad.
The House seems intent not only on destroying the health reform that will provide protections to paying customers against the worst insurance company abuses, but also on destroying the safety net for those who cannot afford insurance or who live in rural areas where doctors do not come.
We can stop this flawed policy. President Obama has actually proposed further increases in clinic funding and the U.S. Senate has not yet produced its version of a budget for this year. Call your Senators and let them know that you want to protect yourself, your neighbors, and your community from this wild enthusiasm for sending good, cost-effective public programs to the chopping block. Oppose cuts to community clinics and to the Health Service Corps.