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Deadline Looms For Health Care Legislation Vital To Valley

Joe Moore
Valley Public Radio

The latest Republican health care bill may have met its end earlier this week in Congress, but there’s more health care legislation awaiting a decision by the weekend. Three federal programs providing aid to the Valley are due to expire on Saturday night.

The first is the Community Health Center Fund, which provides 70 percent of funding to some health centers in underserved and disadvantaged areas. From 2011-2016, California received $1.6 billion from the fund--the most of any state.

Without the fund, Clinica Sierra Vista CEO Steve Schilling says, in the short term, his clinics would be forced to stop expanding. But, says Schilling, "After April 1, 2018, without a resolution of this, we will start laying off staff and shutting facilities."

Next is funding for Teaching Health Centers--medical residency programs also in underserved areas. Valley Health Team CEO Soyla Reyna-Griffin is confident Congress will before the weekend, but if they don’t, she says she’ll do everything she can to keep her teaching health center in Fresno running.

"We will just continue to raise funds, we will do whatever we can to secure funds," she says. "We will make sure that we generate enough revenue to continue the graduate medical education for our residents."

A third policy on the chopping block is the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which provides Medicaid benefits to 9,000,000 kids—including close to two million in California.  

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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