Congress leaves community health centers waiting

CINCINNATI -- Items left unresolved when Congress passed a tax bill last month are affecting people in the Tri-State.

The bill, which lawmakers passed in time to avoid a government shutdown, included money for community health centers like Crossroad Health Center in Over-the-Rhine. 

Crossroad's annual grant is normally more than $900,000. However, they only received about $150,000. Crossroad CEO Jamie Berrens said it only covers two months.

"We are really happy to take anything we can get," Berrens said. "But there needs to be a permanent solution to this."

RELATED: Community health centers holding their breath, waiting for congressional action

Crossroad and other community health centers across the country provide primary healthcare to low income residents. With only partial funding, many centers have gone over the fiscal cliff, leaving services dangling.

"The fear is if our funding is cut, other services will be cut," Berrens said. 

Crossroad had 37,000 patient visits in 2017 and is expecting 40,000 visits this year, so the money crunch has come at a bad time. All of their sites are still open, for now.

Berrens said he has reached out to federal lawmakers from the area. He's frustrated, but community health center advocates are hoping Congress will allocate the remaining money when they're back in session later this month.

"Everybody says, 'Yes, you guys do a great job, we want to help you.' But nothing gets done," Berrens said.

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