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Funding Uncertain for Florida's Community Health Centers

Daan Stevens
Hospital beds

Congress missed a deadline at the end of September to reauthorize funding for the country’s community health centers, which provide access to primary care and other medical services for more than 27 million people nationwide.

While bipartisan negotiators in both the House and Senate are working to push a funding reauthorization bill through Congress in time for Thanksgiving, federally qualified health centers that depend on that federal funding are watching the process closely.

If Congress fails to reauthorize funding by end of the year, then health centers with funding cycles that begin in January may have to begin 2018 with no money from the federal government. The impact could be greater for smaller rural community health centers whose operating budget is more largely dependent on federal dollars.

In Florida, nearly 50 FQHCs, or federally qualified health centers, serve more than one million patients a year.

Andy Behrman, the president of the Florida Association of Community Health Centers, joins Gulf Coast Live, and he is joined by Sarah Hawes with the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida in Immokalee.

Rachel Iacovone is a reporter and associate producer of Gulf Coast Live for WGCU News. Rachel came to WGCU as an intern in 2016, during the presidential race. She went on to cover Florida Gulf Coast University students at President Donald Trump's inauguration on Capitol Hill and Southwest Floridians in attendance at the following day's Women's March on Washington.Rachel was first contacted by WGCU when she was managing editor of FGCU's student-run media group, Eagle News. She helped take Eagle News from a weekly newspaper to a daily online publication with TV and radio branches within two years, winning the 2016 Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award for Best Use of Multimedia in a cross-platform series she led for National Coming Out Day. She also won the Mark of Excellence Award for Feature Writing for her five-month coverage of an FGCU student's transition from male to female.As a WGCU reporter, she produced the first radio story in WGCU's Curious Gulf Coast project, which answered the question: Does SWFL Have More Cases of Pediatric Cancer?Rachel graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a bachelor's degree in journalism.