HOUSE PASSES HEALTH CENTERS RENEWAL ACT OF 2008
Legislation will improve health care services in Mississippi while increasing federal funding for five years
Wednesday, the Health Centers Renewal Act of 2008 (HR 1343) passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 393-24. Congressman Gene Green (D-Texas) is the sponsor of this bill and Congressman Chip Pickering (R-Mississippi) is the lead Republican co-sponsor. This legislation would provide additional appropriations for health centers to meet the health care needs of medically underserved populations by increasing federal funding for five years. The bill would allow health centers to serve 30 million patients by 2015 and provide expanded coverage for dental and mental health services.
"In order to have a viable and sustainable community,
quality healthcare is essential," said Pickering. "This legislation will
ensure that our community health centers are state of the art, equipped with modern technology, and able to serve our citizens that need it the most. I am pleased to see this bill passed by my colleagues in the House and hope that the Senate will move quickly to approve this legislation."
Mississippi has 22 community health centers with 152 delivery sites. After Katrina, these health centers treated 17,870 evacuees in Mississippi, 77% of who were without health insurance. Services provided at these sites can include basic primary and preventive medical care along with onsite dental care and pharmacies. Congressman Pickering has not only been involved in legislation to improve health centers, but also active in securing funding for the facilities to ensure they are up-to-date with top quality conditions and new technology. He recently attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Amite County Medical Services. The new facility has a completion date of March 2009.
"Our health centers provide cost effective, affordable, and accessible care to our most vulnerable and underserved populations in Mississippi," Pickering concluded. "After Katrina, community health centers
answered the call to provide quality healthcare to displaced storm victims who couldn't get care in their communities because of
"This bill will double the number Americans that can be served in these health centers," Green said. "By providing the medically underserved with primary and preventive health care, federally-qualified health centers have also reduced the need for in-patient and specialty care and help to depopulate overcrowded emergency rooms."
The Health Centers Renewal Act of 2008 would reauthorize
programs under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act for five years. The bill will now move to the Senate where they are also considering S. 901, a companion bill introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass).