Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: House Passes Bill to Strengthen Health Safety Net

October 1, 2002




Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued the following statement today following the bipartisan vote this afternoon by the House of Representatives this afternoon to approve H.R. 3450, the Health Care Safety Net Improvement Act. It strengthens the health safety net by authorizing increased funding for Community Health Centers and National Health Service Corps programs across the nation.

"This vital legislation is both humane and cost effective. It will allow millions of uninsured Americans to see a health-care provider before they become desperately ill.

"Community Health Centers are a cost-effective alternative to emergency rooms, providing comprehensive and culturally-appropriate primary and preventive care to 12 million people each year. This legislation will expand the availability of cancer screening and housing services at Community Health Centers and will create new grants to increase access to health services in rural areas.

"By authorizing the National Health Service Corps, this legislation also takes a significant step toward ensuring that those centers and other safety net providers have the staff they need to offer appropriate care. This valuable program provides scholarship and loan repayment support to health professionals who agree to serve in Community Health Centers and underserved communities.

"This legislation also ensures that the Healthy Communities Access Program is preserved. In my hometown of San Francisco, the San Francisco Community Clinics Consortium has used these funds to build a system that will link safety net providers together. The result is a cohesive system of care that includes a common registration system, installation of electronic medical record software, standardization of referral systems, and integration of behavioral health care with primary care.

"These programs are investments in our children and communities that will pay off in lower hospitalization bills and better quality of life for individuals shut out of the private health care market."

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