Charter Oak Community Health Center in Hartford. Photo courtesy COHC.
Charter Oak Community Health Center in Hartford. Photo courtesy COHC.

Federal funding for community health centers is nearing expiration this year. And both health professionals and politicians are warning, that may have some impacts on Connecticut centers and patients.

Laying people off of work isn’t something that CEO Nichelle Mullins wants to do just before the holidays. But if federal funding for Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford stops coming, she may have to.

“If I am looking at potentially laying off between 40 to 50 people, I have to think about how many patients that will impact, because there’s still the need for the community and we won’t be able to meet that need anymore,” she said during a press conference Friday.

Charter Oak is one of more than a dozen federally-funded community health centers in Connecticut that serve about 390,000 patients. Centers offer primary and specialty health care, regardless of insurance status. They often treat some of the most vulnerable populations.

But the federal funds that support these kinds of centers across the country are set to expire if Congress doesn’t appropriate more money for the programs by November 21. Mullins said funding at Charter Oak will run out by Dec. 31.

Sen. Chris Murphy said that’ll leave people with fewer health care options. But convincing his colleagues hasn’t been easy.

“I hate to say it, but it’s a fight,” he told reporters. “We have a lot of Republican colleagues that don’t want to re-authorize funding for community health centers. We have a president who does not want to put money into community health centers.”

In a Oct. 23 letter addressed to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, a group of congressmen stated their support for a five-year extension of funding so that community health centers can continue to offer health and social services, as well as employ more than 220,00 workers across the country.

“They have also been on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, providing substance use disorder and mental health treatment to patients in need,” legislators wrote.

The group of Democrats, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Jahana Hayes, also urged Congress to approve gradual funding increases in future years to afford community health centers more stability.

Blumenthal and Murphy said Friday that they think a deal will eventually be made to extend the funding, but it’ll likely happen close to the deadline.

This story was first published by Connecticut Public Radio on Nov. 15, 2019.

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  1. It may be time for State of Connecticut Legislators and the Dept of HHS to track, and reign in compensation and limit pay of executives within state funded nonprofits. The IRS Form 990 (Return of Private Foundation) clearly shows some executives are making well north of $100,000.00. As of 2017, Nichelle A Mullins Esq. President and CEO compensation level was in excess of $285,000.00 per year.

    1. Great Post. It needs to be shouted from rooftops. The CEO of the Community Health Center in Middletown who gets lots of state and Federal funds made 998K in 2016. Where is the outrage. Mark Masselli the CEO, a high school graduate made 998K plus 34K in other compensation. This information is public record IRS Form 990.

  2. More and more people are feeling the stalemate in congress that the Federal House 0f Representatives is doing. Our representatives are holding up many bills until the impeachment inquiry is settled. Many people are suffering increase of prescription drug prices, increase in health care reversal of many of the tax laws. There are many bills including the military personnel paychecks are in jeopardy. So all of the military people should be contacting all of the representative that are holding up these budget. The democrats, no matter what the media says, only have to look in the mirror on this potential government shutdown.

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