Community health centers ought to be backed by CT budgets.

Over the years, we have been patients at several community medical centers in Connecticut and can confidently say that we have never received such excellent care in our lives. We have developed lasting relationships with our doctors, dentists, and support staff who know us personally, and we place great value on mutual trust. Walking into one of our local health centers for an appointment feels like walking into our second home, and we can’t imagine being treated by a stranger for routine medical care. However, the bad news is that our local health centers are facing serious financial strain due to COVID-19 staffing issues and inadequate reimbursement rates that have persisted for decades.

The threat of service cuts at Norwalk Community Health Center, Family Center Health Care in Greenwich, Southwest Community Health Center in Bridgeport, or any other community-based health center in the state would be a tragedy that would affect not only us but hundreds of thousands of patients across the state. Community Health Centers have more than 250 locations throughout Connecticut, treating over 400,000 people, representing more than one in ten inhabitants of the state. If patients are denied care or have no access to it, healthcare costs increase, and the quality of life of patients decreases. Without adequate funding, this vicious cycle cannot be avoided.

Fortunately, the Appropriations Board has passed a budget proposal that would make up to $32 million available for community health centers in Connecticut. This funding would ensure that doctors and dental offices can remain open, and we can all breathe a little easier. However, to ensure continued access to care, we need the support of lawmakers in the next steps of budget negotiations.

Community Health Centers have made it easy for us and our families to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health centers across Connecticut have provided free, accessible COVID-19 testing to over 900,000 patients and vaccines to over 400,000. However, despite the heroic efforts of so many health professionals working in these community health centers, they are now facing damaging layoffs, severe cuts in services, and even the possibility of closure if they don’t receive the funding they need.

As patients and board members of community health centers, Louis Jeune, Dennis Moyet, and Tana Van Loen urge lawmakers to prioritize funding for these essential health centers to ensure that vulnerable populations have access to quality care.

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