Senate panel advances funding for CARD Clinic to improve patient care, upgrade technology

Measure also pushes assistance for health emergency areas like Libby

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester and his colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee have passed legislation that would improve patient care with technology upgrades at Libby’s Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) Clinic, Tester and Senator Max Baucus announced today.

The Senate Labor and Health and Human Services Appropriations Act includes funding to help the CARD Clinic upgrade to full electronic medical records, improve coordination with other health care providers, and hire an information technology specialist.   Shifting to an electronic medical records system has the potential to improve the Clinic’s efficiency and improve outreach and research capabilities.

“The families in Libby have seen some good steps lately toward getting them the help they need, but there’s more work to be done,” Tester said.  “These dollars will be put to good use boosting the work at CARD Clinic and helping those folks address the needs of the community.  It’s exactly the kind of project I’m proud to support.”

“This is a smart investment for Libby residents still struggling with the effects of asbestos,” said Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “The people of Libby are very close to my heart, and this funding means another good step toward getting them the care they need.”

Under the current legislation, the CARD Clinic would receive $300,000 for the technology upgrades.

The measure also includes language pushing technical assistance for communities facing Public Health Emergencies, such as Libby.  The full language approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee reads:

“The Committee is aware that specialty care is increasingly rare in communities that have been declared a public health emergency and may be critically needed to respond to injuries or illnesses sustained in the emergency.  The Committee notes that HRSA has the authority to consider requests by local entities for alternative provider types with special considerations.  Therefore, the Committee encourages HRSA to provide technical assistance to committees experiencing public health emergencies to ensure that they can utilize all available options to respond to needs resulting from the disaster.”

Tester introduced legislation in the Senate on Tuesday to recruit health specialists to Libby and other areas under Public Health Emergencies.

For a full list of funding for Montana under the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act, click HERE.

What is an appropriations bill?
  • A federal appropriations bill funds the federal government.  12 appropriations bills will fund the federal government for the next Fiscal Year.
  • Less than one half of one percent of these appropriations bills consist of congressionally directed funding (also called “earmarks”).  This funding is not additional spending for the federal government, nor does it increase federal deficit.  Rather, it is a set of directions telling the government where it must use existing funds.
  • In the past, appropriations funding had been abused by anonymous requests with little transparency.
  • Since 2007, the process was overhauled to guarantee transparency and fair debate in Congress.
  • All of Tester’s and Baucus’ appropriations requests are online HERE and HERE.