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 Home > News & Policies > December 2007

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 5, 2007

Fact Sheet: Meeting the Health Care Needs of Uninsured and Underserved Americans
President Bush Visits OneWorld Community Health Centers, Discusses
Role Of Community Health Centers In Providing Health Care To Those
Most In Need

     Fact sheet In Focus: Health Care

Today, the President visited OneWorld Community Health Centers in Omaha, Nebraska and discussed the success of Community Health Centers in providing health care to medically underserved and low-income individuals.  In 2001, President Bush launched the Health Center Growth Initiative and set a goal to significantly impact 1,200 communities across the nation by supporting new or expanded health center sites.  The Administration has since exceeded that goal through the President's expansion initiative, funding 1,236 new or expanded health center sites.  We now have over 4,000 comprehensive sites across the country.  The Community Health Center the President visited today became a federally-funded center in 2001 with funding from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Community Health Centers Are Providing Health Care To Low-Income And Medically Underserved Americans

Community Health Centers deliver high-quality, affordable health care services to medically underserved populations, regardless of their ability to pay.  These Health Centers are important to millions of Americans because they provide primary care, as well as access to pharmacy, preventive dental, mental health, prenatal care, and substance abuse services.    

  • Since 2001, the number of patients treated at Health Centers has increased by 60 percent to an estimated 16.25 million.  Patients receiving dental services increased 95 percent, and patients receiving mental health care increased 190 percent.
  • The Administration is also committed to targeting Health Centers in high-poverty areas.  In August of this year, the Administration announced 80 new site awards in high poverty areas that lacked a Health Center, providing health care access to an estimated 300,000 Americans. The Administration will continue its work to establish these centers in medically underserved areas around the country.
  •  The neediest Americans are, and continue to be, the primary beneficiaries of Community Health Centers.
    • Over 92 percent of health center patients are low-income individuals – meaning their income is below 200 percent of the poverty line. 
    • Sixty-four percent of Health Center patients are from minority communities. 
  • In 2006, Health Centers treated nearly six million uninsured patients, 40 percent of all Community Health Center patients.  This is an increase of over 50 percent from the four million treated in 2001.

Community Health Centers Are Part Of The President’s Plan To Make Health Care More Accessible And Affordable

The President reformed Medicare to add a prescription drug benefit and give beneficiaries more private plan choices.  These programs have been a great success for our Nation’s Medicare beneficiaries.  Medicare is now in the middle of its annual open enrollment period for the prescription drug program and for private plan choices.  Local organizations, including Community Health Centers, have been instrumental in educating beneficiaries about their choices and helping them choose a coverage option that is right for them.

The President has proposed measures to make private health insurance more affordable and give patients more choices and control over their health care.  In his State of the Union address, the President proposed reforming the tax code with a standard deduction for every American who buys health insurance, whether they get it through their jobs or on their own. His proposal would also tap the innovation of States in making basic, affordable insurance more available by creating grants to redirect institutional subsidies to help ensure the poor and hard-to-insure have access to private health insurance.

 The President is working to help increase the transparency of America's health care system and empower Americans to find better value and better care.  He has directed Federal agencies to share information with beneficiaries about prices paid to health care providers for procedures and about the quality of services provided by doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers. Increased transparency about prices and quality will help bring more competition to health care and enable beneficiaries to make better health care purchasing choices.

The President is working to improve the adoption of health information technology.  Electronic health records show promise as a way that could help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of medical treatment. In 2004, the President launched an initiative to make electronic health records available to most Americans within the next 10 years. Last year, he directed Federal agencies to use improved health IT systems to facilitate the rapid exchange of health information.

The President has proposed expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).  HSAs allow people to save money for health care tax-free, and to take these accounts with them if they move from job to job.

The President has proposed strengthening the buying power of America's small businesses by forming Association Health Plans (AHPs).  Small businesses, as well as civic and community groups, should be allowed to band together in AHPs to get the same discounts big companies receive.

The President has proposed medical liability reforms to limit costly and frivolous lawsuits.  These lawsuits are wasting scarce resources, increasing health care costs, and driving doctors out of business.

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