Top Obama Administration Health Officials Take Part in a Tele-Town Hall with Health Center Leaders
BETHESDA, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- President Barack Obama today issued a Presidential Proclamation recognizing August 8 - 14, 2010 as National Health Center Week. “During National Health Center Week, we recognize the important work of Community Health Centers for their role in providing quality, accessible, and affordable patient care as we strive to build a health care system equipped for the 21st century,” said the President. The President also underscored his Administration’s direct investment in Community Health Centers through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), as well as the Affordable Care Act. “Community health centers are at the heart of a modern, reformed health care system in America. We must continue to invest in these centers and ensure that comprehensive, culturally competent, and quality primary health care services are accessible in every community across our Nation,” he said.
The Presidential Proclamation comes as the nation marks National Health Center Week 2010 (NHCW), with events planned across the country that will feature Members of Congress from both parties and key health officials from the Obama Administration. To help launch the NHCW celebration, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., today addressed health center leaders in a tele-town hall meeting hosted by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) and moderated by President and CEO Tom Van Coverden.
“For more than 40 years, Community Health Centers have played a critical role in increasing access to care, improving health outcomes, reducing health disparities and containing health care costs,” said Secretary Sebelius told the health center doctors, nurses, staff and patients who participated in the event. “The Recovery Act and Affordable Care Act together make an unprecedented investment in Community Health Centers because, quite simply, they work. Health centers are a proven tool in keeping families healthy, and their expansion is a key component of health reform.” On the call, Secretary Sebelius also said that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, HHS will be making $250 million available to support the establishment of approximately 350 new health center sites in fiscal year 2011. The Secretary said that these funds, which will be announced early next week, will allow current health centers to expand to new sites and support new community health centers in areas of need.
Secretary Sebelius and Dr. Wakefield were joined by two health center leaders who talked about how the ARRA investment has made a difference in their communities and how health reform will create more primary care options for people in their communities and lower health care costs. Gary Wiltz, MD, CEO of Teche Action Clinic in Franklin, LA, talked about how Recovery Act funds allowed over 3,000 new patients – one-third of whom were uninsured -- to get care at his health center. Velma Hendershott, President and CEO of Intercare Community Health Network, Bangor, MI, described how her center has been serving residents out of an old hospital constructed in 1907. Recovery Act dollars will help fund construction a new 40,000 square foot facility. The new site will help them respond to the demand for services which is projected to increase 35 percent over the course of the next few years and will create up to 50 construction jobs and many additional health care jobs in a community where the unemployment rate is over 12 percent.
One of the bright spots in America’s health care system, health centers are the family doctor to over 20 million people at 8000 sites nationwide and will double their reach to 40 million patients under health reform. Through this expansion, health centers will save up to $122 billion in total health care costs over 5 years, all while creating jobs in their communities.
A recording of the tele-town hall meeting will be posted to the www.nachc.com.
To find out more about National Health Center Week, visit www.healthcenterweek.org
National Association of Community Health Centers
Amy Simmons, 202-309-0338
KEYWORDS: United States North America District of Columbia Maryland
INDUSTRY KEYWORDS: Health Hospitals Public Policy/Government Healthcare Reform Other Policy Issues White House/Federal Government General Health