Local health centers left to struggle even as GOP funds CHIP

hospital GOP healthcare bill

The Children’s Health Insurance Program finally has its funding but kids may still find health care challenging.

At the same time that Congressional Republicans and Democrats are patting themselves on the back for approving funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for the next six years, many local health centers continue floundering.

CHIP had been in dire need of having its funding restored after it was allowed to expire on September 30.

At the same time that lawmakers are celebrating passing the CHIP funding, which already had bipartisan support, it doesn’t mean kids will find it easy to receive the health care they need. Indeed, they will have their health insurance card, which will be important for covering the cost of care, but they will need to be able to find somewhere to actually obtain that care, which may not be as straightforward.

The reason is that local health centers have been struggling as a result of the same challenges that CHIP faced over the last few months. When CHIP lost its funding back in September, so did over 10,000 community health centers.

Local health centers rely on federal grants to remain open and lost that funding when it expired.

hospital GOP healthcare bill local health centersIndeed, the Children’s Health Insurance Program has had its funding restored, but the health care centers where kids go to be treated still don’t have the money they need to remain open.

“What’s so cynical about the continuing resolution is that it funds the health insurance program but not the community health centers,” explained St. John’s Well Child and Family Health Center chief exec, Jim Mangia. The CEO of the South Los Angeles health center said the majority of kids who are covered by CHIP receive their health care services through community medical centers. “So they’re going to have an insurance card, but they’ll have nowhere to go to actually get healthcare if health center funding goes away.”

St. John’s is an organization that operates 15 local health centers in addition to two mobile clinics. They serve approximately 100,000 residents of South Los Angeles. At the same time, the $8.5 million in annual federal funding they had been receiving is now at risk. Should that happen, six of their clinics located within Los Angeles and Compton public schools will need to shut down. Currently, those clinics serve about 15,000 kids. Moreover, if the centers are required to close, up to 150 people will lose their jobs.

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