Lowey Tours Open Door Port Chester, Demands Reauthorization of Community Health Center Funding
PORT CHESTER, NY – Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17/Rockland-Westchester), Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, today visited Open Door Family Medical Center in Port Chester—a Federally Qualified Health Center serving Westchester County. Congresswoman Lowey toured the health center and spoke with patients, staffers, local elected officials, and leaders of community organizations about the need for reauthorization of federal funding for community health centers.
Joining Lowey at Open Door Port Chester were Open Door President and CEO Lindsay Farrell, Port Chester Mayor Richard Falanka, Port Chester–Rye Union Free School District Superintendent of Schools Edward Kliszus, representatives of community-based organizations, and patients and employees of Open Door.
“By allowing authorization to lapse, Congressional Republicans have created uncertainty for centers such as Open Door that are worried about whether they will continue to receive federal investments to provide health care to low-income Americans,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “We know the harm this could cause. Here at Open Door, $4.2 million out of the institution’s $6 million federal grant is on the chopping block, which could result in fewer patients served and fewer medical professionals to meet the needs of our community.”
Federal funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers lapsed on October 1, 2017, after the Republican-controlled Congress failed to reauthorize the program. Without reauthorization, as many as 16,000 residents of New York’s 17th Congressional District could lose access to care.
In her remarks, Congresswoman Lowey called for an immediate extension for community health centers, as well as for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which also expired on October 1. At Open Door, 3,300 children who are covered through New York’s CHIP program could lose their health coverage as a result of CHIP’s expiration.
“It is unfathomable that Republican leadership has allowed these historically bipartisan investments in public health to lapse,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “Congress must work on a bipartisan extension for community health centers and CHIP without delay.”
“Open Door and community health centers across the country have demonstrated that it’s possible to provide high quality healthcare in a cost-effective setting,” said Lindsay Farrell, President & CEO of Open Door Family Medical Centers. “This is particularly important to low-income people and those without health insurance. We’re grateful to Congresswoman Lowey for supporting renewed federal funding, and we’re confident that on this healthcare issue bipartisan support truly exists. Time is of the essence, however, and we urge Congress to act quickly.”
“Any time we can receive federal money for a program, it is a good thing for the Village of Port Chester,” said Port Chester Mayor Richard Falanka. “Open Door is an important part of our community.”
“With the advent of Open Door Medical Centers over a decade ago, we have realized remarkable improvements in student attendance and academic growth; this is directly related to our children having easy access to medical care in our buildings,” said Port Chester–Rye Union Free School District Superintendent of Schools Edward Kliszus. “Currently, the majority of our students utilize Open Door medical services and with the addition of dental services in recent years, we have essentially removed another barrier to learning and daily school attendance.”
Ahead of the lapse in funding for community health centers and CHIP, Lowey called on Congress to stay in session until the programs were reauthorized. Lowey is also a cosponsor of H.R. 3770, the bipartisan Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence Act, which would extend authorization for community health centers and increase funding annually for five years.
Open Door has six Family Medical Centers, six school-based units, and two mobile units in Westchester and Putnam Counties and serves 55,000 patients every year.