By Treasurer John Chiang
Community clinics that provide vital services to California’s most vulnerable residents now are eligible to receive up to $20 million in one-time emergency grants to continue serving low-income and uninsured patients.
The Community Clinic Lifeline Grant Program, authorized as part of the recently approved state budget, is a stop-gap measure to aid any community clinics in California, including Planned Parenthood. Recipients will be able to keep their doors open in the face of threatened severe cuts in federal government support.
The temporary state funding will buy time for clinic managers and lawmakers to identify new revenue sources to replace possible loss of funding from repeal of the Affordable Care Act and elimination of women’s health and preventative services.
These community clinics that nobly serve the poorest patients in our state could be forced to shutter their doors if President Trump and Congressional Republicans are successful at replacing Obamacare with their “wealthcare” and denying access to basic health services to women and children.
We Californians do not turn our backs to those in need. Rather, we provide helping hands to ensure that men, women, children and undocumented immigrants continue to have access to the basic health care services they require.
Washington is poised to slash budgets for a range of programs, such as family planning and preventative services, maternal and child health programs and Medicaid. For example, President Trump’s budget proposal would prevent Planned Parenthood clinics from participating in any federally funded health program.
The funding for this new grant program comes from principle and interest payments that have accrued the last 15 to 20 years in the Treasurer’s Help II Loan Program. The Help II Loan Program provides low- interest rate loans to California’s small, nonprofit health clinics for facilities and equipment.
The grants will support core operations to allow clinics to continue providing care to their patients as they develop long-term plans to deal with the loss of federal support.
Any licensed nonprofit primary care clinic in a medically underserved area that is at risk of cutting services or closing because of adverse federal actions will be eligible for a one-time grant up to $250,000. The program should be up and running by early 2018.
Today, community clinics provide basic services to one out of seven Californians, regardless of their ability to pay.
Tearing apart this important safety net would have enormous consequences, leaving our most vulnerable residents, including women, children and undocumented immigrants, with no access to primary and preventative care and no option for treatment other than costly emergency visits.
Making these emergency grants available was a team effort. I partnered with Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Chair Holly J. Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, and two physicians, who serve in the Legislature: Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno.
These nonprofit, community-based clinics are the backbone of the state’s healthcare safety net. I and my colleagues in the Legislature are thrilled that we are able to help them during these uncertain times.