U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), along with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and over 135 of their colleagues, wrote to congressional leadership urging them to provide at least $77.3 billion for community health centers (CHCs) in upcoming coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) stimulus packages.
"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate communities across America, most specifically people of color and low-income communities, it is imperative to our broader public health and safety goals that community health centers receive the funding they need to effectively meet the challenges before them," the lawmakers wrote.
Throughout this pandemic, community health centers have served as one of our nation's most critical frontline providers. Serving almost 30 million low-income people across America, community health centers provide testing and medical care within the nation's most vulnerable and hardest hit communities, with recently-published race and ethnicity data showing that COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have a disproportionate effect on Black and Latinx communities. Further, as the economic ramifications of this pandemic continue to grow, community health centers have become increasingly relied upon as millions of newly-unemployed Americans are left without adequate access to health care.
In their letter, the lawmakers cited recent comments from federal health officials about the importance of community health centers to the nation's response to the pandemic, and asked Congress to support community health centers by providing at least $77.3 billion-including $7.6 billion in emergency funding-to help meet immediate COVID-19 care needs and to ensure the financial stability of community health centers after the pandemic is over.
"It is unfair and unsustainable for community health centers to meet an increased demand all while operating with limited funding and resources. Nothing is more fundamental to our recovery than the strengthening of America's public health safety net," the lawmakers continued. "Robust emergency funding... will not only help our health centers meet the immediate needs of all of their patients during this pandemic but set a strong foundation for the long-term recovery that lies ahead."
In March 2020, Senator Warren, Senator Sanders, and Congresswoman Pressley, along with Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL), led 165 lawmakers in calling on House and Senate leadership to dramatically increase long-term funding for community health centers. Earlier this month, Senator Warren and Congresswoman Pressley joined their colleagues in the Massachusetts congressional delegation in urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Mitch McConnell to pass a minimum of nearly $70 billion in additional funding for community health centers over the next five years.