Community Health Center leaders worried about future funding

AMHERST, Va. (WDBJ7) Funding could be at stake for community health centers across the country. With a budget deadline approaching, and no answers yet, health centers right here in our region are asking for help.

Health Centers are partially funded by the government, but they don't know if their funding will be extended or renewed yet.

The deadline is at the end of this month and they haven't heard anything back. Tuesday, leaders with health centers in Lynchburg, Roanoke, Danville, Nelson County, and Rockbridge County gathered to figure out a solution.

Betty Wade feels welcomed walking the halls of the Amherst Johnson Health Center

“I feel at home,” said Wade as she walked down the exam room hallway.

Wade has chronic illnesses that she needs dependable health care for, but only having access to Medicaid, it's hard for Wade to get the care she needs.

"Being able to see a doctor that you want to see is very hard. And if you don't have the income you might not be seen,” said Wade.

Community Health Centers were designed to give quality care to people just like Wade.

“The only major difference between a health center and regular doctor's office is we exist to take care of the underserved,” said Gary Campbell, CEO of Johnson Health Center.

Health centers are able to accept all types of insurance, and even patients who don't have insurance. The reason they're able to? Federal funding, but that could be in jeopardy.

“It has never hit this close to a deadline and had this much uncertainty,” said Campbell.
The deadline he is talking about is October 1st. If funding does not get extended or renewed before then some Health Centers will take a big hit, losing around 70 percent of federal funding.

This loss would affect 9 million patients across the country and over 3,000 in Central Virginia alone, leaving people like Wade struggling to find care.

"Until it gets down to the local level, and we really start to encourage and educate people on what this could really mean,” said Campbell. “We just need to take every opportunity we can to make sure people understand what's at stake here."

Health Center leaders are hoping to see some movement on funding sometime next week. They are urging people to call their representatives.