Home / World News / Federal budget deal tosses Colorado community health centers a lifeline — but not a very long one – The Denver Post

Federal budget deal tosses Colorado community health centers a lifeline — but not a very long one – The Denver Post

The $400 billion budget deal to end this week’s brief federal shutdown contained two measures that make Colorado health advocates very happy, at least for the short term.

The bill provides a two-year extension of funding for community health centers, which serve more than 500,000 mostly low-income Coloradans a year. The bill also delays for two years cuts to payments that hospitals receive when they care for large numbers of uninsured or underinsured patients.

“Those are all programs that are critically important to the patients we serve,” said Robin Wittenstein, the CEO of Denver Health, which receives millions of dollars a year from both programs. “We’re thrilled.”

Wittenstein said the funding, even if it is guaranteed for only two years, will allow the hospital to move forward with hiring some new staff and to plan for an expansion of addiction-treatment services.

But she also lamented that the relatively short timeline limits how far into the future the hospital can look. It takes between three to five years to plan for, build and staff a new community health center, she said. Not knowing if federal funding for such centers will be continued beyond the next couple of years means the hospital will be reluctant to build a new centers in neighborhoods that really need them.

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