YAKIMA, Wash. – Health centers across Yakima County and across the country are at risk of losing up to 70 percent of federal funding if Congress doesn’t renew the grant by Sept. 30.
Community Health of Central Washington is one of the health centers at risk of losing more than $2 million in funding, along with Yakima Valley's Farm Workers Clinic and Yakima Neighborhood Health Services.
Community Health CEO Mike Maples said these grants pay for programs that insurance doesn't cover and helps patients who are completely uninsured.
"Many patients require specific sorts of counseling or care coordination, translation services, interpreters, a number of things that the insurance doesn't specifically pay for,” he said.
Maples said these funds would affect their employees and some jobs could be lost.
"We would be forced to make hard decisions about which of these services are less important to the patients we serve, and eliminate the people who provide those,” he said.
Maples said they are working very hard to make sure it doesn't come to that by reaching out to senators to fund the program.
However, the health center isn't the only program facing cuts at the end of the month. If grants are lost, cuts to CHIP will leave 2500 local kids without insurance, a teaching program that trains family physicians will lose jobs and a recruiting program that helps pay educational debt will have harder time recruiting health care providers to the Yakima area.
Maples said a combined loss of these programs will have a devastating effect on low income people's ability to access primary care in Yakima County.