NJTV News

Pallone highlights health programs in danger of losing funds

Gitty Rubin is at an emergency dentist appointment for her son who is 5 and a half years old. She’s been visiting a Community Health Center since she was pregnant and says her family has grown close to the staff. The single mom of three says not a lot of places around her area take her insurance, and that’s something she can’t afford.

“If I did have to go to another place, I’d have to pay a copay or out of pocket,” said Rubin.

She says the Community Health Center covers everything. But that might not be the case for much longer because funding right now for this Community Health Center and others around the country are up in the air since the federal government has not passed a long term budget.

“We’re at risk for possible layoffs, not being able to provide access to care here, and possibly, if we don’t have funding, it would put the health center in dire straits,” said Sandra Hill, the executive director of Chandler Health Center.

She says they’re mandated to see all patients regardless of their ability to pay.

“Last year, we saw 15,678 patients and probably over 60,000 visits, and most of them have been with us for a very, very long time,” said Hill.

Congressman Frank Pallone addressed the issue with some of the programs that are in jeopardy of losing their funding.

“Right now, we’re operating on our month-to-month funding and it’s becoming critical,” said Kelsey McMillen, policy and outreach coordinator at the New Jersey Primary Care Association.

Another program concerned about losing funding is the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. Through federal grants, it supported 73,677 home visits to at-risk pregnant women, and parents with young children in fiscal year 2016.

“There isn’t anybody in Congress who doesn’t want these programs to continue. The question is the money, and that’s why this is involved in this larger issue,” said Pallone. “The Republicans and President Trump are operating the government from week-to-week and it doesn’t make sense.”

“This was totally a manufactured crisis on the part of the Democrats, which ultimately led to a government shutdown. But, their obstructive at-all-cost pattern I hope will change,” said Republican Sen. John Thune at a press conference earlier in the week.

All Rubin hopes for is for lawmakers to put their differences aside to pass a bipartisan deal because time is running out.

“It’s sad. I know a lot of people need this place. I definitely do,” she said.

The government has roughly two weeks to find a solution before it shuts down again.