Community health clinics part of the next health care cliff?

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) -- Community health clinics that see 27 million Americans have been working for months without more than $3.5 billion in funding from Congress.

Thousands of miles away in Washington, in spite of the bipartisan agreement, $3.6 billion in funding for community health clinics hasn't been funded since September 30.

Marillac Health, which helps more than 11,000 Mesa County patients with primary health care and dental care, doubled their number of patients in just two years.

For Marillac Health, that's about seven percent of their funding.

"For some community health centers across the country that can be very challenging for them," said Kristy Schmidt of Marillac Health. "Fortunately for us, we haven't had any effects on us at this point."

Marillac got their yearly grant before the funding ran out, and has several other revenue sources including grants and donations, but they insist they don't want to wait for their money to run dry from Washington.

The funding is being used as a bargaining chip to work out differences over the budget and immigration, something Marillac has been working with lawmakers to solve.

A House vote on a short-term budget fix includes funding for two years. The Senate's compromise bill has the same funding.

But the other tie-ups mean the debate continues and keeps community clinic funding on life support.

"We know there are still a lot of people in need in this community so we think it's important that we continue to grow," Schmidt said.

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