Rep. Rice Announces $1M Federal Grant for LI Health Center Treating Underserved Communities
Future of community-based FQHCs uncertain as GOP pushes to repeal the ACA with no plan to replace
GARDEN CITY, NY – U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice announced today that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $1,036,342 in federal grant funding to the Long Island Federally Qualified Health Center (LIFQHC), a non-profit organization that provides primary care, preventative care, education and other health care services to underserved communities in Nassau County. LIFQHC has primary locations in Elmont, Freeport, Hempstead, Roosevelt, and Westbury/New Cassel, as well as satellite locations in Hempstead, Oceanside and Hicksville that provide specialty care, including mental health and podiatric services.
The grant was awarded through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Teaching Health Center (THC) Graduate Medical Education (GME) Payment Program, which provides funding to qualified teaching health centers, including FQHCs, to support the expansion of primary care residency training in community-based settings, particularly in underserved communities. The award is the final installment of grant funding that LIFQHC has received through the program since FY 2012. The ACA initially appropriated $230 million to fund the THCGME program through FY 2015, and Congress provided an additional $60 million to extend the program through FY 2017. But the future of LIFQHC and other similar facilities treating underserved communities in New York and across the country remains uncertain as Congressional Republicans continue their push to repeal the ACA without presenting a viable plan to replace it.
“Long Island FQHC is doing tremendous work in Nassau County – training and retaining health care professionals to provide primary, preventive and specialty care in underserved communities, improving patient outcomes, and helping to save money for patients and the government by reducing the rate of uncompensated care,” said Representative Kathleen Rice. “I’m grateful that Long Island FQHC secured this grant, but this organization and the patients they serve face an uncertain future with funding for the Teaching Health Center program set to expire in June and Republicans in Congress still pushing to repeal the ACA with no plan to replace it. Congress must take bipartisan action to continue funding this program, and Republicans need to give up their push to repeal the ACA and work with Democrats to improve it. Otherwise, it will be the poorest residents in our communities who pay the biggest price.”
“The grant we received today helps to provide the necessary funding to maintain the Teaching Health Centers program, where we currently have 21 residents in training,” said David Nemiroff, LCSW, Executive Director of Long Island FQHC, Inc. “After our funding had been cut from $150,000 per resident to just $67,000 per resident, this grant restores funding to $116,000 per resident, and while the costs in New York remain higher than the original $150,000 per resident, we make it work. Our residents have achieved a 100% pass rate on their Medical Boards and we have been able to hire at least one or two residents each year to become attending physicians in the health centers. We are proud to train and retain these skilled professionals. But funding is slated to end this June and without continued funding we do not have the funds to continue the program.”
Nemiroff continued, “Under the ACA, the Long Island FQHC, Inc. has been able to expand services and improve outcomes for our patients over the last few years. We have seen improvement in many quality indicators such as improvements in Diabetes Control and Cardiovascular disease. Additionally the loss of ACA support could result in up to 3,000 of our patients losing insurance coverage. As a Federally Qualified Health Center we have to serve people regardless of their ability to pay, but this would severely impact our ability to do that. We serve over 31,000 patients in Nassau County, NY with a large percentage of payment coming from Medicaid. So if funding is cut for Medicaid that could severely impact the services we provide.”