Senator Bernie Sanders met Monday with leaders of Vermont’s eight Federally Qualified Health Centers. The centers and more than 40 satellite offices provide primary and dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs. The senator and directors of the health centers discussed the impact of the new health care reform law on expanding primary health care in Vermont. In the legislation, Sanders successfully fought for an increase of $12.5 billion over five years for FQHCs and the National Health Service Corps, which helps train doctors and other health care professionals who work in medically underserved parts of the country.
The increase in funding for health centers will double the number of Americans receiving primary care from 20 million today to 40 million five years from now. In Vermont, 108,000 patients – about one in every six residents of the state – receive care at health centers. The state of Vermont leads the country in the percentage of people utilizing the facilities.
“With the passage of the health care reform bill, I believe that in a very few years, every Vermonter, regardless of income, will have access to high-quality health care, dental care, mental health counseling, and low cost prescription drugs,” Sanders said. “This is a major step forward, both in keeping our people healthy, and in saving money by keeping people out of emergency rooms.”