Bethesda, MD – The Maximizing Outcomes through Better Investments in Lifesaving Equipment for (MOBILE) Health Care Act overwhelmingly passed the House (414-7) and Senate and is headed to President Biden’s desk for signature.
The bipartisan legislation will dramatically expand the ability of Community Health Centers to establish mobile clinics in rural areas and underserved communities. It allows health centers to utilize federal funds through the New Access Points Grants program to establish new, mobile health care delivery sites. There has been a 40 percent growth in health center mobile units since 2019, which has been essential expanding care beyond the brick-and-mortar walls of a traditional health care setting. Among the services that mobile health units bring to underserved communities are mammograms, dental, vaccinations, cancer screenings, telehealth, and much more.
“On behalf of Community Health Centers and the 30 million patients they serve, I want to thank Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Susie Lee (D-NV), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), and Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-WA) for pushing this important bill to increase access to high-quality primary care in rural communities through the expansion of mobile clinics,” said Rachel Gonzales-Hanson, Interim President and CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). “While nearly half of health centers are located in rural and frontier communities, we know there is still unmet need. Additional mobile clinics will enable existing health centers to reach more patients who live in remote or isolated communities where medical, dental, and preventive care services are sorely needed. Mobile clinics have been essential in the fight against COVID. Over the last six months, health centers have held nearly 7,000 mobile COVID events to test and vaccinate patients.”
Earlier this year, Desiree Sweeney, CEO at NEW Health, a Community Health Center serving rural northeast Washington state, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health in support of the MOBILE Health Care Act. NEW Health’s service area is spread across three rural and frontier counties with mountain passes with a statistically high number of older adults. Transportation is a significant challenge, especially during the wintertime and there are very limited options for public transportation. For NEW Health, using mobile clinics to provide health care services closer to patients’ homes is essential.
NACHC has worked closely with the bipartisan sponsors of the legislation and wrote a letter of support, which was entered into the House Energy and Commerce hearing record. NACHC has also worked with allies like the Mobile Healthcare Association and Mobile HealthMap, thanks to funding from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation to expand resources for health centers operating mobile units.
About National Association of Community Health Centers
Established in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) serves as the leading national voice for America’s Health Centers and as an advocate for health care access for the medically underserved and uninsured.