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Health centers that serve 1.3 million low-income Texans urge Congress to renew federal funding

AUSTIN — Advocates urged Congress on Wednesday to reauthorize funding for community health centers, saying nearly 200,000 Texans could lose access to health care.

The centers provide health services — including dental and behavioral — for more than 24 million low-income patients nationwide and 1.3 million in Texas, regardless of their insurance status. Patients typically pay what they can on a sliding scale. Leaders of the centers say their resources would be cut by 70 percent without federal funding.

“Not knowing if we’ll get the funding forces us to try to manage the revenue we do generate,” said Joyce Tapley, CEO of Foremost Family Health Centers. “None of the health centers are fully funded, so the additional money we generate is based on our collecting from the patients, whether it’s from out of pocket at a discounted rate, or Medicare or Medicaid.”

Foremost Family Health Centers has provided medical, dental, behavioral and specialty health services in Dallas since 1986 and Balch Springs since 2014. Like other health centers, they focus on providing as many primary and preventive care services in one location as possible. Though funding from the federal government has increased over the years, so has patient demand, Tapley said.

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