Tester fights for basic family health care

Senator urges Congress to invest in Community Health Centers

(Big Sandy, Mont.)-Senator Jon Tester is urging Congress to fund Community Health Centers in Montana in order to improve basic health care for families.

Tester sent a letter to Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, encouraging them to recognize the essential work of Community Health Centers and increase investment in them to address the primary care access shortage facing our nation.

“America’s Health Centers have continually proven to be a worthwhile investment by meeting the nation’s growing demands for quality and affordable health care,” Tester wrote. “Without access to primary care, many people, including the chronically ill, delay seeking health care until they are seriously ill and require inpatient hospitalization or care at an emergency room at a much higher cost to the entire health care system.”

The Health Center Fund, an Affordable Care Act provision that provides for the operation, expansion and construction of community health centers nationwide, is set to expire on September 30, 2015. Tester noted, if the funding is not reauthorized, Community Health Centers across the country will have to reduce their services and could even face closure.

According to the National Association of Community Health Centers, approximately 95,000 Montanans use Community Health Centers as their primary source of outpatient care. Montana’s Community Health Centers provide medical, dental, and mental health services, and a majority of the patients live at or below the poverty level.

“Montana families rely on Community Health Centers for basic primary care and affordable health services,” Tester said. “We must keep these facilities open and avoid any lapse in funding that they need to keep seeing patients.”

Today, there are 16 Community Health Centers in Montana.