Legislation seeks more money for Federally Qualified Health Centers
Calling Erie’s Community Health Net an important health care resource, Rep. John Evans (R-Erie/Crawford) today announced legislation he is sponsoring to provide additional funding for the state’s Federally Qualified Health Centers as a way to provide greater access to medical care.
“Federally Qualified Health Centers like Erie Community Health Net provide a wide range of health services to Erie families -- services they otherwise may not be able to access, or services that would only be available at hospital emergency rooms,” Evans said.
Federally Qualified Health Centers offer a full array of day-to-day medical needs and provide services such as adult and family education, pediatrics, gynecological and obstetrical care, health education and prevention services, dental services, pharmacy and behavioral health services.
As a member of the House Republican Health Care Task Force, Evans and his colleagues looked at the tremendous success these centers have had in communities across the Commonwealth. One of the task force’s recommendations focused on supplementary state funding that would allow thousands of additional people to immediately benefit from their services. That recommendation was drafted into legislative form as House Bill 1824, which is now in the House Health and Human Services Committee for consideration.
Participating in today’s press conference at Erie Community Health Net’s State Street location were John Schultz, director of Erie Health Net; Rep. Curt Sonney (R-Harborcreek); Susan More, a Erie Health Net board member and patient; and Erie Health Net employees.
Evans said 42 Federally Qualified Health Centers with 190 sites operate in urban, suburban and rural areas in Pennsylvania. People of all economic levels can obtain primary health services for themselves and their families. All centers accept public insurance like Medicare or Medicaid, as well as private insurance.
“The overall goal must be to improve access to health care and make it more affordable without compromising the quality of care,” Sonney said. “Federally Qualified Health Centers have an important role to play in our overall strategy to accomplish that goal.”
In addition to the Erie center, there are centers in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, as well as in more rural areas like McKean, Elk, Crawford and Mercer counties.
“By reducing potentially preventable hospitalizations and avoidable emergency room visits, these centers have saved millions of dollars, both to the Commonwealth and insurance companies – helping keep those costs out of the health care system,” Evans explained.
In 2006, nearly 500,000 people were served, with 1.76 million visits – a 20 percent increase in just four years. Of the clients served, 92 percent had incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and 75 percent had Medicaid or Medicare, or were uninsured.
By expanding the use of Federally Qualified Health Centers, Evans and the task force estimated that primary care for up to 100,000 Pennsylvanians could be available immediately.
“I am proud to stand here today in support of Representative Evans’ proposal because just like the rest of the legislation comprising our health care initiative, it leaves increased payroll taxes and other employer mandates completely out of the health care funding equation where they belong,” said Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren/McKean/Forest) who supports the legislation. “The cost-saving and access-expanding success of the Erie Community Health Net in both rural and metropolitan areas proves once again that free-market driven health care solutions are the only remedies that will make Pennsylvania a place where medical residents look forward to setting up practice and job-creating, family-sustaining employers remain open for business.”
Evans’ legislation is part of the House Republicans’ Real Prescription for Pennsylvania, which is a comprehensive plan to provide coverage to Pennsylvania’s uninsured while enhancing health care services and availability for all Pennsylvanians at a lower cost. For more information on the House Republican health care plan, visit Evans’ Web site at www.RepEvans.com or www.HealthCareForPaFamilies.com .
Rep. John Evans
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Jennifer Algoe Keaton
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2008