Washington, D.C. – A bill that would increase funding for community health centers that provide medical care to people who lack insurance or have low incomes passed the U.S. House today and will be sent the president, who is expected to sign it into law.
The Health Centers Renewal Act of 2008 (H.R. 1343) would provide more than $2 billion annually to build and expand health centers in medically underserved areas.
“This bill will help satisfy a dire need for more and better health care in communities like ours in east Harris County. There are a million people in the Houston area without health insurance, but only ten federally-qualified health centers,” said U.S. Rep. Gene Green (D-Houston), the bill’s sponsor.
Green said the bill was part of his ongoing effort to bring better health care to residents of his district. “Right now the three community health centers in our district are El Centro de Corazon and Denver Harbor Clinic in Houston and the Pasadena Health Center,” Green said. “This bill will help accomplish our goal to expand services to other neighborhoods, including North Side Houston, Jacinto City, Galena Park, and Woodland Acres Communities.”
Green said the health centers are a “vital safety net” for 47 million people in the United States who can’t afford insurance, and he expects his legislation will allow health centers to help more than 22 million patients over the next five years, a greater than 50 percent increase over current capacity.
“These community health centers have demonstrated time and time again that if properly funded by Congress they can meet our country’s tremendous need for quality, affordable health care,” he said.
The Health Centers Renewal Act reauthorizes the Community Health Centers program, the National Health Service Corps, the Rural Health Care Programs, and the Primary Dental Health Workforce Programs. It also contains a revision of the time frame for certifying rural health clinics under the Medicare program, a provision extending eligibility to the District of Columbia and the Territories of the United States for the State Loan Repayment Program, and a provision related to the emergency response coordination of primary care providers.
The bill’s passage was the result of a bipartisan compromise reached after several months of negotiations in the House and Senate. The Senate passed HR 1343 under unanimous consent Sept. 24.
Federally-qualified health centres in Green’s district:
El Centro de Corazon: 5001 Navigation, Houston. (713) 926-1849.
Pasadena Health Center: 324 Pasadena Boulevard, Suite 1001, Pasadena. (713) 554-1091.
Denver Harbor Clinic 424 Hahlo Street, Houston. (713) 674-3326.