Release: Sanders Hails Another 'Important Milestone' in Vermont Health Care

Release: Sanders Hails Another ‘Important Milestone’ in Vermont Health Care  

WASHINGTON, June 5 – Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced today a major step toward establishing Vermont’s ninth Federally Qualified Health Center in Addison County.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services yesterday designated five Addison County towns as underserved in terms of access to health care.  The towns are Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, Starksboro and Buels Gore. 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.

A community group, the Five Town Health Alliance, was formed two years ago to assess the area’s health care needs. It is leading the effort to establish a health center. 
“This is an important milestone,” said Sanders. “It is the crucial first step on the road toward a community health center in Addison 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.” 

During the closing days of the Bush administration, Addison County’s application was turned down. Sanders asked the Obama administration to re-examine the matter, and the Vermont Department of Health and the Bi-State Primary Care Association worked with the Five Town Health Alliance to reapply. 

Sanders has been a champion of expanding access to health care and played a major role during the last six years in taking Vermont from two health centers to eight, with more than 30 satellite sites. Earlier this year, Springfield Hospital received $1.3 million to open the newest center in Vermont. With the addition of that health center, more than 100,000 patients statewide will be served.

Sanders has introduced legislation, the Access for All Americans Act, that would authorize $8.3 billion annually at the end of five years to expand the number of Federally Qualified Health Centers from 1,100 to 4,800, and provide primary care access for 60 million Americans.

Dan Hawkins, senior vice president of the National Association of Community Health Centers, testified at a recent Senate hearing that that the cost of care at health centers is 41 percent less than what is spent to care for patients elsewhere.  That results in a savings of more than $17 billion a year today, he said. 

For the full list of Vermont centers and satellite locations, click here.