Clyburn Statement on Clyburn-Sanders Community Health Centers Bill

Jun 26, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn delivered the following remarks today on the Clyburn-Sanders Community Health Centers Bill (as prepared for delivery):

“I am pleased to join Senator Sanders to introduce the Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said in 1966, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.’

“I have often described the Affordable Care Act as the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century, because it banned many forms of discrimination in the healthcare system.  The ACA made great strides towards the long- held goal of universal health insurance coverage for all Americans. Equally important, however, is insuring universal access to healthcare in every community throughout the country.  The ACA dramatically expanded the federally funding for community health centers and the National Health Service Corps which in tandem provide health care facilities and providers in underserved communities, both urban and rural.  This is key to connect health insurance coverage to actual health care.  I believe Congress should act to build on the steps taken by the ACA to further expand community health centers to ensure that there are adequate facilities and qualified providers available to every person in America, no matter where they live.

“Senator Sanders and I championed a provision in the ACA that created the Community Health Center fund. It provided mandatory funding of $9.5 billion over five years to expand community health centers operations and $1.5 billion for construction and renovations of Community Health Center facilities.  The fund also provided mandatory funding to expand the National Health Service Corps.  While this funding was originally scheduled to expire after 2015, we were able to successfully secure a two year extension of the fund.  Unfortunately, this vital funding expires on September 30th of this year. We must address this funding cliff and we need to expand the funding to provide 100 percent coverage of community health centers because they fill such a vital role in our health care system. They serve communities that few other providers serve.

“As we are now dealing with ad hominem attacks on the Affordable Care Act, Senator Sanders and I are introducing this legislation to expand and make permanent community health center funding and programs that were created in the ACA. Specifically, this bill will increase the funding for Community Health Centers from $5.1 billion in fiscal year 2018 to $12.5 billion in fiscal year 2027.  This would allow health centers to serve twice as many people in 2028, from 25 million today to 50 million.

“We need to build on the success of the ACA, not turn back the clock.  This bill does just that.  The Trumpcare bill on the Senate floor this week goes in the opposite direction, turning back the clock and ripping away coverage and protections from millions of Americans.  It is immoral and Congress must reject it.”