Burr Applauds Signing Of Community Health Centers Renewal Act

Law will improve health care access for rural North Carolinians

U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) today applauded the President's signing of H.R. 1343, the Health Centers Renewal Act of 2008. The act will allow greater access to quality health care in rural and underserved areas by reauthorizing the Community Health Center program, the Rural Health Care Services Outreach grant programs, the National Health Service Corps and primary dental health workforce programs. This new law will also make it easier for community health center employees to volunteer to respond to public health emergencies, such as a hurricane or flu pandemic. The bill, which Senator Burr cosponsored, was signed by President Bush yesterday.

"Community health care centers provide excellent care for people with and without health insurance, and I applaud the Congress and the President for passing this legislation and signing it into law," Burr said. "All Americans should have access to high quality and affordable health care, and community health centers provide valuable health services to thousands of Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured patients every year in North Carolina."

In North Carolina, community health centers serve over 380,000 patients and facilitate over 1.2 million patient visits per year. According to the non-partisan North Carolina Community Health Center Association, they include over 120 clinical service sites with over 150 physicians, 91 nurse practitioners or physician assistants and 358 nurses and other medical personnel in North Carolina alone.

In addition, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) improves access to health care by placing more than 4,000 health professionals in communities across the country that face the largest shortage of providers. Since 1972, more than 27,000 health professionals have served with the NHSC and many of these providers have remained in underserved communities after their initial commitments.

"We know oral health is an essential part of general health, and many communities lack access to good dental care. The dental health workforce programs included in this legislation will help states implement innovative programs to address the dental workforce needs in underserved communities," Burr added.