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Community health center grants to be suspended next month

About $5.3 million in monthly grants to community health clinics around the state will be suspended through June. Three dozen organizations representing 214 clinics will see the grants suspended beginning Jan. 1.

The state Health Care Authority says that could be changed under a supplemental budget approved by the Legislature.

Spokesman Jim Stevenson says the agency already made $9.8 million in cuts after Gov. Chris Gregoire ordered across-the-board cuts in September. But those previous reductions hadn't affected the clinic grants.

The clinic cuts detailed Wednesday are part of Gov. Chris Gregoire's attempts to cover a deficit in the current state budget.

Following last moth's election results, the CEO of Community Health Network of Washington,a network of community health centers, warned such cuts were likely, but defended the need to keep them going:

“These essential services have been a sound investment for the state, earning federal matching funds and keeping our communities healthy," said CHNW's Lance Hunsigner.

The organization says it serves 700,000 uninsured and underinsured people each year across the state.

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