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Congress should fund community health centers

Healthcare is often seen as a divisive topic in this country, especially as the healthcare system moves to one that’s focused on patient needs, with greater access, higher quality and lower costs. However, there is one program with longstanding bi-partisan support that is already providing this type of care – the Community Health Center Program.

Access to affordable healthcare is vital but, in rural states like Iowa, long-distance travel or transportation to a doctor’s office can pose a challenge, leaving unaddressed health conditions that could have been prevented. This is becoming more commonplace. Some 250 rural counties across the nation are without any providers.

In Iowa, health centers like Primary Health Care are responding to needs of our communities in both rural and urban areas, particularly in areas with poor health outcomes and minimal access to services. By providing integrated care – meaning medical, dental, behavioral health, and pharmacy services are provided, often under one roof – health centers can address the whole person and their complex needs such as homelessness, food insecurity, lack of transportation, and more.

The work health centers do to extend and improve lives generates cost savings across the healthcare system, but the return on investment depends on long-term support. We thank Senator Chuck Grassley, Senator Joni Ernst, Representative Abby Finkenauer and Representative Cindy Axne for their continuous support. We ask them to work diligently to extend our funding before the Sept. 30 deadline.

Several bipartisan bills have been introduced in Congress that will provide long-term and stable funding for health centers and programs that help build the primary care workforce we need for the future. We are hopeful our leaders in Congress will do the right thing and extend our funding beyond our September deadline. The health of our community depends on it.