On Tuesday, February 6, there will be a National Day of Action to urge Congress to reauthorize the Community Health Center Fund.

This fund, until September 30, 2017, was used to support 16 community health centers in 40-plus locations serving over 106,000 Montanans with their basic primary care including dental, medical, and behavioral health.

Deputy Director of the Montana Primary Care Association, Stacey Anderson, said the entire day will be dedicated to getting Montanans to contact their congressional delegation and asking them to sign on in support of restoring the Community Health Center Fund.

“Our funding has not been renewed as of September 30, 2017, so we are scheduled to run out of 70 percent of that federal grant when it runs out on March 31st,” said Anderson. “All the Community Health Centers in Montana are going to wear red on Tuesday and support this ‘red alert’ that, nationally, all the community health centers are participating in.”

Anderson said the impact of the funding cuts will entirely depend on the size of each health center.

“Some community health centers are big and strong and have lots of different payers and programs,” she said. “But a lot of health centers are small and they are in rural Montana, and they’re the man primary care provider in their community. They do medical care, pharmacy care, dental care, they provide counseling and behavioral health care, they screen for substance abuse, and the loss of this funding could mean that satellite sites would close and some of those services would no longer be provided.”

Anderson said the main push on Tuesday is for all Montanans to contact their congressional delegation. KGVO News has received word that both U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte and Senator Jon Tester have already agreed to support the proposal. Senator Steve Daines' office says they have "been pushing for and are champions of the initiative."

In Hamilton, the Sapphire Community Health Center is on the 300 block of North 3rd.