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Grijalva: Budget standoffs hurt health centers

Raul Grijalva
Posted at 7:28 PM, Jan 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-26 21:36:29-05

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva is worried the sort of budget brinkmanship that led to a short government shutdown -- will jeopardize health centers--  millions of low income people depend on.

Grijalva wants issues like immigration to be handled separate from less contentious budget items.

El Rio Community Health takes care of the health needs of about 95 thousand people in our area.  Many of those people are low income. But El Rio and community health centers like it across the country are feeling threatened by all the Congressional conflict in DC.
The fight over DACA, immigration, and the border wall shut down the government for a few days because Congress failed to approve a budget extension.  
Now they're a few days into a three-week extension where there's the risk the same budget brinkmanship.
The dispute was over immigration but the effect was much wider, including Federal money for community health centers like El Rio, dedicated to caring for low-income patients.
Congressman Raul Grijalva wants a separate DACA vote so that highly charged issue doesn't hold hostage money community health centers need.

"Let the American people see a full-throated debate on the dreamers, on a resolution and on security.  And let's pass a budget resolution for up to five years that comfortably takes care of health centers for the future."
Dr. Doug Spegman, El Rio's Chief Clinical Officer says running on short-term extensions is like a family living paycheck to paycheck.  He says centers smaller than El Rio may have trouble committing to programs they need. 

"How do you commit to a community extension program for diabetics next month if you don't know that the funding to support that will be there."
But lumping issues together is routine in DC to try to force members of Congress to okay things they don't want to protect programs they do support.