Community health advocacy matters

Zufall executives rally for long-term, increased federal funding

Zufall leaders recently traveled to Washington, D.C. for the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)’s Policies & Issues Forum with an important mission. NACHC is the nonpartisan advocacy group representing the nation’s 1400-plus community health centers (CHCs), like Zufall.

Central to the visit was urging elected officials to enact long-term federal funding for CHCs. Zufall executives emphasized that CHCs care for over 31 million underserved patients, generate $85 billion in economic activity, and save taxpayers $24 million annually.

“Despite bipartisan support, the situation is complex,” explains Shade Cronan, SVP of External Affairs and Foundation Director. “CHCs’ funding through the Community Health Center Fund, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration, requires periodic reauthorization by Congress. Sometimes this fund stalls due to political disputes or budgetary constraints. At the time of our visit, it had already expired and was only on temporary extensions.”

The Community Health Center Fund is a cornerstone of financial stability for CHCs like Zufall, providing a consistent and dependable revenue stream that accounts for 17 percent of the health center’s budget. When the Fund is compromised, it’s challenging to plan and sustain operations and to support necessary increases in services. And while the Fund has remained level in recent years, it has not kept pace with rising inflation or growing patient demand.

“For these reasons, we are advocating for long-term, increased CHC funding,” said Cronan. “At Zufall, where half of our patients are uninsured, the need is even more pronounced.

In March, just before the deadlines, Congress passed bills safeguarding CHCs’ funding until the end of 2024. However, Zufall urges ongoing engagement to encourage long-term federal support for CHCs:

  • Review CHCs’ national impact in this 2023 NACHC report:
  •  Consider why CHCs are meaningful to you or your organization
  • Watch Zufall’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and emails for opportunities to contact your representatives about specific legislation.

Above: The late Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (second from right) was among the officials that Zufall Board Chair and Foundation Trustee Barry Rabner, MPA (far left), President and CEO Fran Palm, SVP of External Affairs Shade Cronan (far right), and Chief Medical Officer Rina Ramirez, MD (not pictured), spoke with in D.C.