A health care crisis at Community Health Centers


STATEWIDE (WTNH)– Community Health Centers across the state are facing a crisis that no one is talking about. It could start affecting the health care of thousands of  Connecticut residents in the next few weeks.  This is some of the fallout from that brief federal government shutdown last month.

One out of every ten Connecticut residents go to one of the 17 Community Health Centers across the state for their medical care. But some of the over 375,000 patients are facing the prospect of curtailed services and some of the nearly 3,000 health care workers are facing the possibility they could lose their job.

“All the Community Health Centers are on edge because the financing for our federal dollars has not been resolved, and that’s the biggest challenge we have,” said Lud Spinelli of Optimus Health Care, the largest Community Health Care provider in southwest Connecticut.

Statewide, it amounts to about $40 million. For the health centers, it means making tough decisions in the event that Congress doesn’t have a long term budget deal by a week from today. Mollie Melbourne of the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut put it bluntly, “We’d be looking at approximately 530 staff being lost as a result of this. About 25 percent of our patients would actually be potentially unable to receive their services.”

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) says this is one of the big reasons he voted against that Continuing Resolution that ended the federal government shutdown last month. “This is a crisis that hasn’t been getting a lot of attention. These Health Centers are due to run out of money in a couple of weeks because Republicans in congress haven’t re-authorized their funding.”

This is another issue that both Republicans and Democrats agree these centers should be funded; they just can’t get together on solving other big problems, like immigration, so the health centers across the country get caught in this situation.

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