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MEDIA ADVISORY: Chairman Sanders to Hold HELP Committee Hearing on Community Health Centers

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP), announced Monday that the panel will hold a hearing this Thursday, March 2, at 10 a.m. ET titled, “Community Health Centers: Saving Lives, Saving Money.”

Today, 30 million men, women, and children – including nearly 400,000 veterans – receive high quality primary health care at community health centers in 14,000 neighborhoods throughout the United States. In Sanders’ home state of Vermont, nearly one out of every three people are now receiving their primary health care through a community health center across 73 sites – the highest per-capita use of community health centers in the country. Community health centers currently receive about $5.8 billion a year in federal funding, but this funding will expire on September 30, 2023 creating a primary care cliff that Congress can and must avoid.

“In America today, community health centers are providing cost-effective primary medical care, dental care, mental health counseling, and low-cost prescription drugs to 30 million people regardless of a person’s bank account or insurance status,” Sanders said. “Not only do these health centers save lives and ease human suffering, they save Medicare, Medicaid, and our entire health care system billions of dollars each year because they avoid the need to go to expensive emergency rooms and hospitals. In the midst of a broken and dysfunctional health care system, I will be doing everything I can to expand community health centers so that every American has access to the primary care that they need and deserve.”

According to the most recent data, nearly 100 million Americans live in a primary care desert, nearly 70 million live in a dental care desert, and some 158 million Americans – nearly half the country’s population – live in a mental health care desert. Today, 85 million people are uninsured or under-insured, over 500,000 people go bankrupt each year because of medically related debt, and more than 68,000 people die each year because they cannot afford the health care they desperately need. Expanding community health centers will begin to address this urgent crisis.

Testifying at the hearing will be Amanda Pears Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of Advocates for Community Health and Executive Director of the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved; Ben Harvey, M.A., Chief Executive Officer of Indiana Primary Health Care Association; Robert S. Nocon, M.H.S., Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine; Sue Veer, MBA, CMPE, President and Chief Executive Officer of Carolina Health Centers; and Jessica Farb, M.S., Managing Director at the Government Accountability Office.

Hearing Details
What: Hearing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to consider “Community Health Centers: Saving Lives, Saving Money”

When: 10:00 a.m. ET, Thursday, March 2, 2023

Where: Room 430, Dirksen Senate Office Building. The hearing will also be livestreamed on the HELP Committee’s website and Sanders’ social media pages.

Amanda Pears Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Advocates for Community Health, Executive Director, Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, Washington, D.C.
Ben Harvey, M.A., Chief Executive Officer, Indiana Primary Health Care Association, Indianapolis, IN
Robert S. Nocon, M.H.S., Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA
Sue Veer, MBA, CMPE, President and Chief Executive Officer, Carolina Health Centers, Greenwood, SC
Jessica Farb, M.S., Managing Director, Government Accountability Office, Washington, D.C.