by Alexandra Sange
The House passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962) this weekend was a monumental step toward achieving meaningful health reform this year and we know health centers are primed and ready to play a pivotal role. We are proud to report that Congress has noted our willingness, and they’re now depending on us to help deliver on the promise of reform. In fact, throughout the debates on Friday (in Rules Committee) and Saturday (on the House floor), several Representatives praised their local health centers, mentioning the expansion of the health center program as one of the most critical, and most immediate, reforms to take place. Here in this blog post, we’ve pulled together the Representatives who honored health centers with floor and debate remarks and some of their statements.Several Members of Congress supporting the bill mentioned health centers in their verbal and written statements on the House floor and in the Rules Committee:
- Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) mentioned on the House floor that expanded funding for community health centers is one of the major provisions in the bill that brings reform to the people, ensuring all Americans have access to quality, affordable care.
- Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) praised the historic bill on the House floor for the ways it controls costs and improves access to quality care, citing health center expansion and the training of new doctors among its most important provisions.
- Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) noted, on the House floor, that her constituents are clamoring for reform and that “they know that the doors of our community health centers are in constant motion because of overwhelming demand for their low-cost and high-quality services.” She praised health centers greatly in the rules committee debate and touted health center investments among the most meaningful, critically important parts of the bill.
- Education and Labor Chair George Miller (D-CA) praised health centers during the Rules Committee debate for their flexibility and strength as partners and said that if health center expansion is not included in the bill, it may not bring any meaningful reform or improved health to the community.
- Congressional Hispanic Caucus Health Care TaskForce Chair Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) commended the bill for aiming to reduce health disparities and improve minority access, especially through health center expansion, identifying Community Health Centers as the “cornerstone of primary care services in communities of color.”
- Representative Danny Davis (D-CA) praised health centers on the House floor, saying that the expansion of health centers will help ensure that people are not stuck waiting in emergency rooms to see a doctor and that all people have regular access to primary care.
- Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), during the Rules Committee debate, touted health center expansion as a driver of cost-savings, quality improvement, and the best pathway to care for the uninsured and underserved.
- Representative Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) noted, on the House floor, that health center expansions are among the most important provisions in the bill to bring down costs and improve quality of care.
- Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) said on the floor that this is a historic day for the improvements in care for low-income, uninsured and other vulnerable populations and noted that health centers are an important part of improving community health on indicators like income mortality.
- Representative Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI) stressed the importance of bringing relief to uninsured individuals and families now, mentioning that the bill’s important increases in health center funding will double their number of patients served over the next five years.
- Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) emphasized the importance of consumer choice and affordability and mentioned investments in community health centers and the primary care workforce as a critical part of bringing consumers the choice, quality and affordability we need.
- Representative Mazie Hirono (D-HI) praised the bill as a milestone in reforming the health care system, citing health centers and NACHC as key players, and critically important supporters, of reforming the delivery system.
- Representative Sanford Bishop (D-GA) said he believes the bill will have “a significant impact on improving the lives of Southwest Georgians now and into the future,” citing the bill’s increased funding for community health centers and other primary care providers, which will double the number of patients seen over five years.
As a true testament to the strength of the Health Center program, several members who opposed the bill overall – including Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) – made a point to mention that despite their opposition to the bill, they do support the health center provisions.
Again, these Members of Congress took the time to specifically reference health centers in their limited remarks on the House floor. Please take some time to personally thank these dedicated advocates in Congress. Stumped on how? Refer to this week’s ‘thank your representative’ advocacy blog to find out how!