Primary Health Care
Effective primary health care is the foundation of a high functioning health care system. As Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Sen. Sanders is committed to initiatives and programs that promote primary health care. Sen. Sanders secured $12.5 billion in the Affordable Care Act to increase the number of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) across the country, in an effort to deploy more doctors, dentists and other health care professionals in underserved areas through the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), and significantly increase the number of patients who have access to affordable primary care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs.
Study after study has shown that access to better primary care results in better health outcomes, reduced health disparities and reduced spending on avoidable emergency room and institutional care. A strong primary care system not only makes Americans healthier, it saves our nation money, especially through prevention and by treating health situations when they arise – rather than waiting until those situations worsen and require more extensive and costly care.
Sen. Sanders released a report titled Primary Care: 30 Million Patients and 10 Months to Go: Who Provide Will Their Primary Care? and held a Subcommittee hearing in January 2013 on the profound primary health care access challenges in the United States. In April 2013, Sen. Sanders held a follow-up hearing on programs and policies that seek to address primary care workforce shortages.
In rural areas like Vermont, many people have a difficult time finding a primary health provider. This is why Sen. Sanders has led the effort to dramatically expand the number of health centers in Vermont and around the country. Currently more than 130,000 Vermonters receive primary care, including medical, dental and mental health services, at FQHCs. Sen. Sanders is committed to expanding the program further and ensuring every Vermonter has access to quality health care in their community.