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Federal Funding Expiration Has Utah Health Groups Concerned

Erik Neumann
The Central City Community Health Center in Salt Lake City.

September 30th marks the end of the federal government’s fiscal year. Local healthcare advocates are concerned because it’s the time when federal funding for two health programs in Utah is set to expire.

One of the programs is Utah’s Community Health Centers. Federal funds help support their 53 primary care centers around the state.

Alan Pruhs is the Executive Director of the Association For Utah Community Health which represents the local health centers. He says a large portion of their funding, called mandatory funding, is set to expire at the end of September.

"If the mandatory funding were to go away the program would experience a 70 percent cut in its funding," Pruhs says. 

Pruhs estimates such a cut could reduce their 53 clinics to about 17. He says while they’ve faced similar reauthorization deadlines before, they haven’t come this late in the year.

"We’re remaining hopeful but also slightly nervous as well as the clock is ticking," he says. 

Another program facing budget uncertainty is CHIP, the national Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides healthcare for low-income kids. CHIP’s federal funding is also set to expire at the end of next month.

Jessie Mandle is a Senior Health Policy Analyst at Voices for Utah Children.

"Just given the overall context of healthcare right now there’s just a lot of uncertainty," Mandle says. 

Mandle says CHIP generally gets bipartisan support in Congress. But given the current instability in the Affordable Care Act marketplace, reauthorizing CHIP is especially important this year. 

"Everybody wants to see CHIP extended. I think it’s just a matter of when, and Congress acting quickly," she says. 

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch will lead a bipartisan Congressional hearing about CHIP funding next month.   

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