Community health centers move forward after budget battle

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CHESHIRE — Representatives from the state’s community health centers breathed a collective sigh of relief following last week’s congressional vote to keep them funded.

The federal budget provides $4 billion for community health centers in 2019 — up from $3.6 billion last year. Under proposed cuts, the state’s 17 health centers, including one in Meriden, would have lost $40 million in federal funding. The centers serve low-income residents and Medicaid patients.

”We were very concerned over the past year,”  said Deb Polun, director of government affairs at the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut. “They would have had to lay off hundreds. No way we could have operated.”

On Monday, heads of several community health centers met with U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th, to share program successes and offer insight on ways to avoid piecemeal and uncertain state and federal funding. 

Federal funds for Community Health Centers were allowed to expire at the end of September. As a result, some centers curtailed services, froze hiring or put off equipment purchases.

“They were holding the community health centers hostage,” Esty said. “It was beyond…

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