Capitol Fix the Cliff

By Ross Brooks, CEO, Mountain Family Health Centers

Mountain Family Health Centers is thousands of miles from the U.S. Capitol, but what happens under that dome will have a direct impact on our patients.

Community Health Centers like ours bring a unique and important perspective to the national conversation on health care. At Mountain Family Health Centers (MFHC), we are part of a nationwide network that started more than 50 years ago, to provide high-quality primary medical, dental and behavioral health care in places where doctors, dentists and behavioral health services were scarce or non-existent.

Nationally, health centers have grown to serve as the family medical center to more than 27 million Americans in communities across the country. Today, MFHC serves over 18,500 patients from Eagle, Garfield, Pitkin, and Rio Blanco counties, at sites in Avon, Basalt, Edwards, El Jebel, Glenwood Springs, Parachute, and Rifle. Community health centers like Mountain Family have helped reduce the incidence of chronic disease in the most challenging rural and urban communities all over America.

There is little doubt that health centers have contributed significantly to cost savings for the American taxpayer. Yet, it is not sufficient to describe us as just another health care program. We are problem-solvers that look beyond medical charts not only to prevent illness, but also to address the factors that cause poor health, such as homelessness, lack of nutrition, unemployment and drug addiction.

For decades health centers have drawn bipartisan support from U.S. Presidents and lawmakers because of our record of success. Yet, such broad support may not be enough to ensure we can continue to serve people who need affordable primary care in the future.

Today, MFHC is threatened with a severe loss in federal funding. If not fixed by Congress, this “funding cliff” will have a direct and immediate impact on the health of our community. Across the communities we serve, 6,200+ uninsured patients at MFHC are at risk of losing access to high-quality, affordable care at MFHC.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has projected that the national impact of the federal funding cliff would be dramatic: closure of 2,800 health center locations, elimination of more than 50,000 jobs, and a loss of access to care for more than 9 million patients.

If access to affordable, integrated primary medical, dental, and behavioral healthcare is important to you, please ask our Congressional leaders to “fix the Community Health Center funding cliff” at Our health depends on it.

Ross Brooks, CEO, Mountain Family Health Centers