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Federal Budget Deal Could Shutter Health Centers

The Congressional budget deal reached in Washington this weekend could have dire implications for Texas’ federally qualified health centers — clinics that provide comprehensive care for the uninsured.

Medical clinic in Presidio, Texas.

The Congressional budget deal reached in Washington this weekend could have dire implications for Texas’ federally qualified health centers — clinics that provide comprehensive care for the uninsured.

José Camacho, executive director of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, said the 2011 budget proposal strips $600 million in funding from the federal clinics nationally, representing up to a 10 percent cut in current services. Add to that cuts in family planning and women’s health services at the state level, Camacho said, and six or seven of Texas’ 68 federally qualified health centers could face possible closure.

“They’re going to have a very hard time surviving,” Camacho said. “This is just destruction on top of destruction.”  

The cuts come at a time when Republican lawmakers are searching for methods to force Planned Parenthood out of the state’s family planning and women’s health programs. One of the lawmakers' key arguments is that these federally qualified health centers can pick up the slack — something Camacho said will be less likely if there are fewer of them.

“We’re going to, by necessity, have to quit taking new clients until we get down to the number that equates to a 10 percent cut,” he said. 

State Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, said he hadn't yet heard about the cut, but was surprised that the feds would trim funding for the health centers, which treat the working poor. As far as the funding cuts anticipated in the state budget, he said, "we will try to restore it." 

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