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Sanders announces $33 million funding for community health centers

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 12:18 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 2, 2021 at 6:18 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - More than $33 million in emergency funding is heading to Vermont’s 11 community health centers as a result of the American Rescue Plan.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, made the announcement on Thursday at the Riverside Community Health Center in Burlington. He says the money will allow the health centers to improve the quality of care being provided to 187,000 patients around the state. “What we are accomplishing here is a real achievement,” Sanders said. “It’s a model to the country, and we can and will do even better.”

Sanders is touting the distribution of the money as “the biggest single investment in the state’s community health center history.” He says nearly 1-in-3 Vermonters rely on the centers for high quality and affordable health care. “You’re going to get dental care, which is a very serious problem in our state and throughout this country. You’re going to get mental health counseling, and you’re going to get some of the lowest-cost prescription drugs that are available in America,” he said.

The CEOs of some of the community health centers across the state were on hand to express their gratitude and explain how they plan to use the money. “We’ll be adding resources to provide mobile testing and vaccine administration services to underserved populations across the community, particularly those experiencing homelessness, living in rural areas, or our BIPOC community members,” said Jeff McKee, CEO of the Community Health Centers of Burlington.

“We are in the process of acquiring a mobile unit which will go out to employers to really help employers stay at work and be able to take advantage of immunizations for flu vaccines and those type of activities,” said Josh Dufresne, CEO of Springfield Medical Care Systems.

“We’ll be ordering a mobile unit to help with the vaccine administration to continue meeting the need of our hard-to-reach populations,” said Pam Parsons, CEO of Northern Tier Center for Health.

Sanders says the American Rescue Plan will also put $800 million into the National Health Service Call program, which helps health facilities in rural communities and areas that are medically underserved expand their staff.

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