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Fact check on community health centers

March 4, 2010, 2:38 pm | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

As we noted earlier, it’s important to keep the facts straight when discussing health care reform. Another issue within the debate that needs clarification is the role of community health centers, which would receive $11 billion in additional funding under President Obama’s proposal.

In a recent interview on NPR, National Right to Life federal legislative director Douglas Johnson described community health centers as institutions “from which abortions could be paid with no restriction,” echoing similar claims in outlets such as Lifenews.com and Baptist Press by Johnson, as well as other anti-abortion voices such as Americans United for Life, Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council.

However, the National Association of Community Health Centers released a statement in response to these claims today, stating in part:

Existing Health Centers, funded by Section 330 of the PHS Act (also called Federally-qualified health centers, or FQHCs), do not provide abortions to any of their patients, and we are not aware of any that have ever done so. Health Centers do not plan to, nor are they seeking to, become providers of abortion. On the contrary, last year health centers provided prenatal, perinatal, and post-natal/post-partum care to 1 of every 8 children born in the U.S.

Given that both the new Community Health Center Fund dollars and current annual appropriations funding will be used in combination by HHS to fund Health Centers, we would expect that the current “Hyde” prohibition would continue to apply to all Health Centers and their operations.

The National Association of Community Health Centers also described their role in the health care system as follows:

Since its creation 45 years ago, the Community Health Centers program has focused on bringing health care to millions of people in thousands of communities across the country that lack access to primary and preventive health care. This is especially true in low-income, un- and under-insured, and minority populations, and residents of rural and frontier communities with too few providers to serve them. The Senate health reform legislation’s Community Health Center Fund will allow Health Centers to expand to serve nearly 15 million new patients in communities across the country that still lack adequate health resources.

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