WASHINGTON, December 15 – Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced today a major step toward establishing the first Federally Qualified Health Center in Bennington County.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designated three Bennington County towns – Arlington, Sandgate and Sunderland – as underserved in terms of access to health care. The designation is needed before federal funds may be sought to establish and run a health center to provide primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs to Bennington County residents.
“This is an important milestone,” said Sanders. “It is the crucial first step on the road toward a community health center in Bennington County which will ensure that residents of the area will have access to high-quality primary health care regardless of income. Within the next two years, the addition of health centers in Addison and Bennington counties would bring to 10 the total number of centers in Vermont.”
Sanders played a major role during the last six years in taking Vermont from two health centers to eight, with 40 satellite sites. This year, Springfield Hospital received $1.3 million to open the newest center in Vermont and the Community Health Center of Burlington was awarded $10.9 million in federal stimulus funds earlier this month for construction of a new building.
Altogether, more than 110,000 patients are served by community health centers throughout Vermont.
Sanders is seeking funding in the health reform bill to assure health centers for the 60 million people who now live in underserved areas throughout the United States.