Continued Funding a Must to Avoid 'Primary Care Cliff,' Say AAFP, Other Groups

Federal funding for three programs that enhance access to care in underserved areas while bolstering primary care is set to expire in 2015. That prospect has dozens of medical and other groups urging lawmakers to extend the funding.

The AAFP, along with more than 100 medical and social service organizations, sent a letter to Senate and House leaders(7 page PDF) asking them to continue funding for teaching health centers, community health centers and the National Health Service Corps, all three of which received dedicated funding through fiscal year 2015 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Because these programs play a key role in providing essential medical care for underserved patients and/or training for the primary care physicians and other health care professionals who deliver that care, the looming expiration deadline of Sept. 30 is being dubbed the "primary care cliff."

"The collective impact of the primary care cliff, if not addressed, would be devastating not only to the provider organizations and health professionals directly impacted, but to the patients and communities served by those providers, and to the health care system as a whole," the letter reads.

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