This letter was published in the Omaha World-Herald‘s Public Pulse section on January 1, 2018.
Right now, OneWorld and other community health centers in Nebraska are experiencing a federal funding cut that took effect Oct. 1. Without a permanent fix soon, health centers like ours will have to make difficult choices to save costs and keep our doors open. Without health centers in Nebraska, as many as 85,000 people could lose access to care.
Why should this matter? Because health centers save lives across the nation and in Nebraska. OneWorld is part of a nationwide network that started more than 50 years ago to provide quality primary care for at-risk children, families and individuals. At OneWorld, we provide quality, affordable care and medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and support services in Omaha, Bellevue and Plattsmouth. In 2016, we cared for 37,771 unique patients from 70 zip codes at our clinical locations. Of those patients, 90 percent lived below the 200 percent poverty line, 75 percent were racial and ethnic minorities, 49 percent were uninsured and 15,108 were children.
Most Republicans and Democrats support health centers, and they also want a funding cliff fix. So why can’t Congress get the job done? We are up against a host of factors that include a ticking clock and a busy legislative calendar. Despite these factors, Congress must turn their attention to fixing the health center funding cliff. Let’s hope they act before it’s too late.
Andrea Skolkin, Omaha
Chief Executive Officer, OneWorld Community Health Centers