Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) is pushing for Congress to renew funding for community health centers when it votes on another short-term spending measure this week.
Funding for community health centers expired last fall.
Delaware has three community health centers, one in each county. First State community health centers include La Red Health Center in Sussex County, Westside Community Health in Kent and Henrietta Johnson Medical Center in New Castle.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, they serve more than 49,000 low-income patients.
Westside Family Healthcare, the largest community healthcare system in the state, closed its Middletown location in November. It cited uncertainty in federal funding as one reason for the closure.
Carper said he wants money for community health centers in the latest spending deal expected to pass later this week.
“I think if you ask most Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House, they would say in their own states, community health centers doing a great job and they do it in a cost-effective way," he said. "If we can’t figure something out on on that front, we ought to find a new job.”
Carper is running for a fourth Senate term this year.
He also said he would also like a bipartisan compromise on immigration as part of the budget extension, but it’s not expected to include a narrow deal to protect undocumented young adults from deportation.
Carper said he doesn’t support short-term spending bills to fund the federal government, but doesn’t expect a government shutdown either.
“The idea of these continuing resolutions though, where you keep the government going for a week or two or three is hugely wasteful, inefficient, demoralizing for federal employees,” he said.
While federal funding expired last September, some temporary financial support runs out at the end of March.
Delaware community health centers get about 35 percent of their budget from the federal government. Most of the funding comes from the Community Health Center Fund, created in 2010 by the Affordable Care Act.