вторник, 2 октября 2012 г.

SEN. ROBERTS CALLS FOR BETTER ACCESS TO HEALTH PROFESSIONALS IN RURAL AMERICA - US Fed News Service, Including US State News

The office of Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., issued the following news release:

Today, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) joined a bipartisan group of Senators in co-sponsoring and voting for the Health Centers Renewal Act of 2007 which renews two important health programs for Kansas: adding incentives to attract more primary care physicians and other health professionals to medically underserved areas and expanding Community Health Centers throughout Kansas. The bill was approved unanimously by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

'I am pleased we passed this legislation to give more Americans access to top quality health services, especially in rural areas. Our rural communities in Kansas have unique needs and these programs attract more primary health professionals to help rural patients and providers,' Senator Roberts said. 'As Co-Chairman of the Senate Rural Health Caucus, I believe improving access to quality health care is essential to preserving our rural way of life.'

The 'Health Centers Renewal Act of 2007,' S. 901, introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), includes increased funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) program which is a long-standing federal loan repayment and scholarship program which focuses on getting primary care physicians and other primary health professionals to medically underserved areas. These professionals go to areas that critically need the manpower and have trouble recruiting health professionals and receive loan repayment or scholarships in exchange for serving a certain number of years in a community. Kansas had forty-six placements across the state in 2006, with the bulk of these professionals located in rural areas.

Also as part of this legislation, the Community Health Centers program is renewed and expanded for another five years. Community Health Centers (CHC) are local, non-profit, community-owned health care providers serving low-income and medically underserved communities. In 2004, the Kansas health centers served over 62,000 individuals across the state. Kansas has ten federally-funded Community Health Centers located in Kansas and two located in Missouri that serve Kansans. This bill will expand the current Community Health Centers and their services as well expand the number of CHC's in Kansas.

'This is a program that works,' Roberts said. 'Community health centers are the primary care safety net for so many Kansans and studies have shown that those who use this program are healthier and use emergency rooms less, which keeps costs lower for all Kansans. It is my hope that passage of this bill will allow this program to expand to other Kansas communities. '

The bill now goes to the Senate floor for debate and a vote.

Senator Roberts received the 2007 Distinguished Community Health Super Hero Award by the National Association of Community Health Centers and the Kansas Association of the Medically Underserved. Roberts is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the Senate Committee on Finance.Contact: Sarah Ross Little and Molly Mueller, 202/224-4774.

Sarah Ross Little and Molly Mueller, 202/224-4774.