Community Health Centers worried about funding

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill (WAND)- It's not just children's health insurance that is in jeopardy, funding for Community Health Centers throughout the country are also in trouble after Congress let funding for the centers lapse September 30. 

Community Health Centers are now left hoping that Congress will act quickly to restore funding to the health centers, which care for 25 million people nationwide. 

"There is a lot of uncertainty and instability in our future so now we are planning on how we can continue do do what we do." said Heather Burton, President and CEO of Central Counties Community Health Center. 

Central Counties Community Health Center has locations in Springfield, Jacksonville, and Taylorville, seeing around 15,000 patients each year. Through the 330 grant that the center receives $3.2 million a year from the federal government. However, if funding is not renewed for the Community Health Center Fund the center risks losing crucial funding. 

"A seventy percent reduction of money from the 330 grant would leave me with just under a million dollars to provide the services that we provide. That could potentially equate to 3,000 to 4,000 patients, it could mean job cuts." said Burton. 

However, Burton says regardless of the future of funding, they plan to continue to serve those who need them most. 

"We do not plan on going anywhere, we plan on continuing to do what we do. We just may have to do it a little differently." she said. 

Burton says they do have enough funding to last until March. 

"My particular health center, our funding will expire on February 28th, so that's when our new grant cycle starts would be March 1. So we would need to start planning for what could do starting March 1."

Community Health Centers typically see low-income patients, either those on Medicaid or that have no insurance. Cutting funding to these centers would hurt some of those who need it most. 

"Community Health Centers were built on the premise of being that safety net provider. Legislators know that. They recognize that, and they value that. So we are confident that in some point in time we will hear good news." said Burton. 

Legislation has been proposed to renew funding for Community Health Centers that could be heard this week. 

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