Community Health Centers across Mississippi waiting to see if they'll be funded for another year. As MPB's Ezra Wall reports, a major part of their funding is set to expire at the end of the month.
Funding for the state's Community Health Centers could be at risk if Congress doesn't act soon. The centers provide basic services like medical, dental and vision care. Ending Congressional funding of the federal government's Community Health Centers Fund could mean a 70 percent budget cut for 190 sites in Mississippi. Jeron Ravin of the Mississippi Primary Health Care Association says the centers serve 300,000 Mississippians every year.
"One of the beautiful things about Community Health Centers is we're federally mandated to see every single person who walks in our doors, and we're proud to do so," says Ravin. "We are not just for those who have no health insurance, but those who have Medicaid or CHIP. I was speaking to a young man yesterday who owns his own cleaning service. He has twelve employees, none of whom has traditional health insurance, and all of whom use Community Health Centers."
The Association says some 80,000 Mississippians could be left completely without health care. According to Ravin, the whole medical care system would be affected if the centers were forced to close.
"A seventy percent cut would likely mean a reduction of services for some health centers, the smaller ones possibly closing," says Ravin, "and at a minimum, the letting-go of medical professionals who sustain these health care services."
A spokesman for Republican Senator Thad Cochran says the Senator has a long history of supporting Community Health Centers. He says Cochran is part of a group working to secure funding for the centers.
Federal funding for the program is set to expire on September 30th.