Tester Leads Charge to Support Montana Community Health Centers Responding to COVID-19 Crisis

Thousands of Montanans at risk of losing access to health care

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today is demanding more support for Montana’s critical community health centers (CHCs) to help them respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

In a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester and a bipartisan group of his Senate colleagues wrote that CHCs face a $7.6 billion budget shortfall in the coming months, and called for additional funding for CHCs to be included in the next coronavirus relief package to support their frontline health care work.

“Community health centers provide affordable care to more than 29 million patients, including 385,000 veterans and 8.7 million children nationwide,” wrote Tester and his colleagues “These centers play a critical role in responding to the pandemic, offering coronavirus testing, primary care, dental care, behavioral health care, and other services to our nation’s most vulnerable patients.”

Tester wrote that without more support, CHCs across the country are at risk of closing, shutting off access to critical health care services when they are needed most – especially for Montanans living in rural and underserved communities.

“These valuable providers will continue to lose more revenue as the pandemic continues,” the Senators continued. “Additional funding is critical for these centers to continue providing quality, affordable health care and front-line response efforts. We look forward to working with you to reach a bipartisan agreement to enact legislation and ensure community health centers can continue to provide high quality and affordable care to those in need.”

Tester has worked tirelessly to ensure that Montana hospitals and health care facilities are prepared to combat the COVID-19 crisis. He recently announced nearly $50 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to help Montana expand testing capacity. He also secured $3 million for 14 Montana community health centers to expand COVID-19 testing, and he delivered nearly $200 million in relief funding for 121 rural Montana hospitals, health centers, and clinics.

Additionally, he sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urging him to guarantee that a portion of the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund will be set aside specifically for rural providers, health care expenses, or lost revenues attributable to the pandemic.

Full text of the letter HERE.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak