Congress urged to approve millions for community health centers in NY facing budget cuts

Some lawmakers want to reverse federal funding cuts that threaten thousands of uninsured and poor who use community health centers in New York and nationally.

A group of 155 U.S. representatives, including Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, sent a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi expressing concerns about the funding cuts and pushing a bill that would restore the money.

The politically charged issue, known as the funding cliff, affects community health centers, such as the Open Door sites in Westchester and Putnam counties, and hinges on debates over the federal budget underway.

"We understand that community health centers across the country are already facing disruptions as a result of going over the so-called 'funding cliff'" the letter states. "We urge you to work with Republicans and Democrats in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize the critical program for five years."

Public-health officials, including Lindsay Farrell, president and chief executive officer of Open Door, have noted the health centers would have to begin cutting services if the federal funding isn't approved by the end of this year.

"We know the harm this would cause," Lowey said this month in Port Chester. "Here at Open Door, $4.2 million out of the institution's $6 million in federal grants is on the chopping block."

Congress missed a Sept. 30 deadline to reauthorize the community health centers' funding and has, so far, failed to reach agreement on how to do so going forward.

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