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Community Clinics Brace For Federal Funding Drop

Cutbacks Would Affect Poor Residents Most, Administrators Say

Morgan (CC-BY)

Community health centers in Wisconsin and across the nation face big federal funding cuts later this year that could impact the availability of medical care for the poor. Clinic directors are asking lawmakers to restore the money.

Currently, community health centers are supported through a five-year Health Center Fund that was part of the Affordable Care Act. When the fund expires at the end of September, the clinics will lose 70 percent of their federal grant money. Laura Scudiere, executive director of the Bridge Community Clinic in Wausau, wants the fund extended for another five years.

“We’ve actually been calling it the ‘federal funding cliff.’ It’s going to basically wipe out our safety net, our medical safety net, all through the country,” Scudiere said. “And a lot of community health centers are the only way that the underserved get medical, dental or counseling care in their area.”

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Scudiere said some clinics might be forced to close. The Bridge Community Clinic would have to cut services in Wausau by at least one-third, she said.