WASHINGTON, March 27 – In another round of economic stimulus funds for Vermont, eight community health centers in the state will receive more than $1.5 million to expand services and create jobs.
“This is one of the most significant steps forward that we have seen in decades in addressing the primary health care crisis in our country,” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said of the funds, part of $2 billion for Federally Qualified Health Centers included at his urging in the economic recovery bill that Congress passed on February 13. Health centers provide affordable primary care, dental care, mental health services and low-cost prescription drugs.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said community health centers are part of Vermont’s health care infrastructure. “Rural areas like much of Vermont depend on these vital community-based resources to ensure the availability of local dependable health care services. Even so, some Vermonters are still without a regular source of care. With this timely addition of funds from the economic recovery plan, Vermont’s eight Community Health Centers can reach more Vermonters during these difficult economic times.”
“Vermont’s community health care centers have played an extraordinary role in ensuring that Vermonters can see a doctor when they need medical attention,” said Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.). “This additional funding will help health centers reach more patients with quality services, which is all the more important as Vermonters continue to struggle in this difficult economy.”
The Vermont grants include $229,967 for Community Health Centers of The Rutland Region in Bomoseen; $157,958 for Little Rivers Health Care of Bradford; $294,562 for Community Health Center of Burlington; $192,281 for Community Health Services of the Lamoille Valley in Morrisville; $146,390 for The Health Center of Plainfield; $164,980 for the Richford Health Center in Richford; $254,463 for Northern Counties Health Care in St. Johnsbury, and $100,000 for Springfield Medical Care Systems in Springfield.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the Vermont grants as part of $338 million distributed nationwide to expand services offered at the nation’s community health centers.
In an earlier round of funds released under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Springfield Hospital was awarded $1.3 million to become Vermont’s eighth Federally Qualified Health Center. With that addition, health centers will provide primary health care to more than 100,000 Vermonters regardless of their ability to pay.
A cost-effective alternative to hospital emergency rooms, community health centers offer basic services like prenatal care, childhood immunizations and cancer screenings. Open to everyone, the centers care for patients covered by Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance as well as those who have no insurance.
The National Association of Community Health Centers last night gave Sanders its 2009 Distinguished Community Health Champion Award, citing his “dedication and leadership…to preserve, strengthen and expand access to quality health care.”