Community Health Centers could lose federal funding in May - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Community Health Centers could lose federal funding in May

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MISSOULA -

This is the first time Community Health Center administrators are not sure if they will have federal funding from the government come May.

The Health Center Re-authorization Act was up in September 2017 and Congress has been delaying the re-authorization since then. 

The lack of federal funding for Community Health Centers in Montana could put thousands of Montanans at risk.

"Potentially 27,000 people would have less access to health care should this not pass, which is huge," said Laurie Francis, Executive Director of Partnership Health Center.

One of these 27,000 people is Billy Woods.

Woods has been a patient at Partnership Health Center for over a decade. He says if he didn't have the option to come here, he's not sure what he would do.

"I don't know. I don't have a clue where I would even start to look,” said Woods.  

Partnership serves as a one-stop medical center for woods and 15,000 other patients in Missoula and the surrounding area.

Woods can get medical care, dental care, behavioral assistance, access to a pharmacy and even services for housing, education and jobs.

But it's more than the accessibility for Woods. For him it's also a place he feels at home.

"I just really like the doctors and everyone at Partnership and we joke back and forth and have a good time," said Woods.

One of those people who makes sure patients have a good experience is volunteer John Talbot.

He's been helping out here for several years as a volunteer in the dental clinic.

He's seen the need for a place like this, one that serves those who don't have much. Eighty percent of the patients here have limited income.

"Well some of them would turn out in emergency rooms, which is a very expensive way to go. But sometimes that would be the only alternative they would have. Or they would go without the preventative care that they should have," said Talbot.

That's what makes continued funding for Partnership Health Center and dozens of other Community Health Centers crucial for Montana.

"I am not nervous. I am feeling powerful along with everyone else and expect that we get this reauthorized," said Francis.

Without the re-authorization of government funding, Partnership would see an 11 percent cut to its budget. Staff say that could eliminate some of its assistance for housing and food.

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