Cochran, Wicker call for 'critical' community health center funding

Cochran, Wicker call for 'critical' community health center funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDAM) - U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker are fighting to keep community health centers in Mississippi afloat.

The Community Health Center Fund expired in September 2017, putting community health centers across the country in jeopardy.

The senators say these health centers provide cost-effective care to more than 280,000 Mississippians every year.

Two of those health centers are located right here in the Pine Belt; Family Health Center in Laurel and Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative in Hattiesburg.

Cochran and Wicker announced Tuesday they are working with 67 other senators to raise calls to reauthorize the program.

"Community health centers serve a vital function, providing affordable health care to our nation's most vulnerable citizens," wrote the senators. "They provide quality medical, dental, vision and behavioral health care to more than 27 million patients, including 330,000 of our nation's veterans and 8 million children, at over 10,000 sites nationwide. Without extension of the Community Health Center Fund, community health centers will lose 70 percent of their funding. This will result in an estimated 2,800 site closures, the loss of 50,000 jobs, and approximately 9 million Americans losing access to their health care."

According to a joint news release from the senators, the House of Representatives released legislation Monday addressing the healthcare funding issues. The bill includes a two-year extension for community health centers.