Community Health Centers
Community health centers (CHCs) provide highly efficient and cost-effective primary, behavioral, and preventative care for the most vulnerable populations. They are essential in overcoming barriers to care such as cost, insurance coverage, language barriers, and transportation access, thereby reducing health disparities while improving outcomes.
PCDC has worked to finance and enhance community health centers for decades. It is critically important that CHCs remain accessible and fully equipped. PCDC supports policies that ensure CHCs are continuously funded and supported — allowing them to provide critical, affordable health services to the communities they serve.
Our Policy Issues
PROTECTING COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER FUNDING
Establish continuous, guaranteed federal funding for community health centers.
Years of chronic underinvestment in primary care have made providers dependent on every dollar and cost savings measure to continue their essential programs. Potentially losing federal funding poses grave implications for CHCs as it represents nearly 20% of their revenue stream, and even more in states that have not expanded Medicaid. A halt in federal funding would cause CHCs to reduce care, close service sites, and cut staff.
PCDC supports policies that ensure CHCs have a steady flow of federal grant funding, enabling them to achieve long-term success and continually support their communities.
MAINTAINING THE HRSA LOAN GUARANTEE
Streamline the newly improved HRSA Loan Guarantee Program.
Many CHCs have difficulty obtaining affordable loans for their capital projects due to the variable nature of their revenue streams. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Health Center Facility Loan Guarantee Program (LGP) enables health centers to access capital by backing the lender with an 80 percent loan guarantee, thereby unlocking previously unattainable revenue sources for CHCs.
The LGP allows CHCs to expand and modernize their facilities — ultimately providing greater community access to primary care, dental, behavioral health, vision, and pharmacy services. PCDC and others successfully advocated to increase funding and continuity of this critical program; our priority now is to make it more accessible, ensuring continued investment in CHCs.
PROTECTING THE 340B DRUG DISCOUNT PROGRAM
Preserve the 340B Drug Pricing Program and protect medically underserved communities.
The 340B Program entitles qualifying entities — Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)-supported health centers, AIDS drug assistance programs, and safety net hospitals and providers — to receive discounts on eligible outpatient drugs. Covered entities may provide 340B drugs to all eligible patients, regardless of a patient’s payer status or how the drug is administered.
Through working in rural and urban communities across the country, PCDC intimately understands how safety net providers rely on the 340B Program to bring accessible care to underserved patients. In recent years, the program has faced several threats both nationally and at the state level, which PCDC has vehemently opposed and advocated against. Because 340B providers exclusively see the most vulnerable populations, limiting the program will disproportionally impact these already hard-hit communities. PCDC strongly supports policies that safeguard the program and its vital benefits.
ENABLING WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AND EXPANSION
Increase incentives and reduce barriers to provider recruitment and retention.
According to the OECD, over two thirds of primary care doctors and nurses are overqualified for the tasks they perform in their day-to-day work. This waste of human capital must be eliminated for the health care delivery system to function efficiently. PCDC supports primary care strategies that build an adequately trained workforce with an appropriate distribution of skills and tasks.
Additionally, primary care provider and workforce shortages are significant obstacles to increasing access to care. PCDC strongly recommends implementing loan forgiveness and scholarship programs in return for practicing in a primary care setting. This model has been proven to support recruitment and retention of primary care providers.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FINANCING
Protect funding programs that allow for greater investment in and development of underserved communities.
PCDC is one of many Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). CDFIs are private organizations that meet the needs of economically disadvantaged rural and urban communities by addressing challenges through responsible, affordable lending. The Community Reinvestment Act and programs like the New Markets Tax Credit create crucial opportunities to revitalize low- and middle-income communities by providing financial assistance to expand access to quality primary care.
PCDC has provided direct financing and leveraged more than $1.2 billion through these programs, with more than $5 of private investment for each $1 of public investment. With such transformative potential for so many communities, PCDC advocates for continuously upholding and supporting these critical investment programs.
Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) — Connecticut’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center — celebrated the culmination of an ambitious project: a $47 million expansion of three sites across the state.
Made possible through PCDC financing, the new facilities span a total of 81,400 square feet and expand primary care access to an additional 16,000 low-income patients. The growth will transform an organization that began in a walk-up apartment in 1972 and now serves 140,000 patients nationwide.