Tester vote highlights the fact that health centers are essential

by Livingston Enterprise, Lara Salazar

Thank you, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, for ensuring that one in 10 Montanans will continue to have access to essential primary healthcare services in Community Health Centers.

Montanans have long benefitted from Jon Tester’s leadership in the Senate, and most recently in the passing of the federal budget. As I reflect on and try to learn from the recent passing of the federal budget, I continue to read about Tester’s successful battle to secure two years of funding for Community Health Centers that serve over 100,000 Montanans. To me, this stands out as the latest demonstration of his commitment to an essential component of a successful society – the health and wellbeing of citizens.

I write as a Montanan, a health care consumer, a Community Health Center patient, and someone who works in support of the health center mission in rural and frontier Montana communities. For myself and my family, my neighbors and fellow community members, I appreciate Sen. Tester’s attempt to work closely with the other Montana delegates to agree together to vote to protect these essential primary care services.

While I was excited and warmed to see photos and news stories ahead of the budget vote of Sen. Tester, Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte working together publicly to pledge their support for Community Health Centers and essential healthcare services, I was surprised and disappointed when Daines and Gianforte broke their commitment and voted against health centers (among other important services) at the end of the day. I value Senator Tester’s investment in understanding that there are far reaching negative impacts to a community, state and nation when the health of all people is not prioritized, and the exponential value and benefit to society when it is.

Jon galvanized with his vote that health centers are essential in supporting health in our communities, by providing access to high quality medical, oral and behavioral healthcare, treating and preventing disease for all. He recognizes that health centers are working with patients as partners to achieve their health goals, while coordinating care and resources to more fully address overall health of the patient. This healthcare approach helps to achieve better health outcomes, reduce cost to the healthcare system, and allow people to focus less on illness and more on families, their work, and their community.

Because of this, it is vital that health centers continue to be funded beyond this two-year mark.

Senator Tester’s actions to protect health centers spoke louder than other’s words. He continues to earn my vote.