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Congress Gives Virginia Health Centers a "Booster Shot" of Funding

June 9, 2008

Richmond, VA - Congress is moving toward making it a little easier to stay healthy in Virginia. Last week the House passed the Health Centers Renewal Act by a margin of 393 to 24, with all of Virginia's delegation voting "yes."

Rick Shinn with the state's Community Health Care Association says that if the measure becomes law it will mean continuing care for more than 225,000 Virginians who use community health care centers in more than 80 medically under-served areas.

"This will help low-income people, as well as persons who do not have insurance - a lot of the working poor in Virginia - as well as folks who live in areas where access to medical services is very difficult to gain."

The bill increases the use of volunteer medical staff at health centers and clarifies health center medical malpractice coverage in public health emergencies. Shinn believes those measures will go a long way toward ensuring that community health centers continue to grow with an adequate clinical workforce.

The bill's next stop is in the Senate, then on to the White House, where Shinn expects a friendly reception from the president.

"President Bush has actually been a strong supporter of community health centers, and we've seen significant increase in the number of health centers and the number of persons using these health centers nationally. That's been good for Virginia because the programs have grown quite substantially over the last five to eight years."

John Robinson/Steve Powers, Public News Service - VA