DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008--Continued -- (Senate - October 23, 2007)
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Ms. MURKOWSKI. I would like to thank the chairman and the ranking member of the subcommittee for providing one of the largest increases in funding for community health centers which include migrant health centers, health centers for the homeless, and public housing health services. Community health centers particularly impact medically underserved communities which can be in urban settings like New York City or in the most frontier of all States, my home State of Alaska.
I am pleased that the bill before us today recognizes the importance of community health centers and provides $2.26 billion in funding for the program. But what about staffing these facilities? While it is important that we provide money for building these centers, we simply cannot ignore the fact that many community health centers throughout America are not fully staffed. According to a Washington Post article from June of this year, many of these centers rely heavily on the National Health Service Corps. Still, this is not enough to fill the gap, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers. For lack of funding, the Health Service Corps had to turn away about 50 percent of the 1,800 doctors who applied last year.
Whether in a large urban city like New York, or a frontier community like Bethel, AK, the National Health Service Corps should be properly funded so that millions of underinsured and uninsured Americans have access to health care. I believe that with an increase to the appropriations for the National Health Services Corps we will be able to achieve that and encourage my colleagues to match the House-passed funding levels.