Biden Praises Health Centers as the “Cornerstone of Our Public Health System” in Presidential Proclamation
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Bethesda, MD — Today, Community Health Centers kick off National Health Center Week 2022 (August 7-13) with a historic milestone of reaching more than 30 million patients in a single year. The growth in patients comes as health centers mark more than two years as drivers of health equity in the fight against COVID, administering 22.2 million vaccines, 72% of which have gone to patients of racial/ethnic minority backgrounds, and conducting 20 million tests. A new NACHC infographic reveals the reach and demographics of the health center patient population. Health centers care for 1 in 11 U.S. residents, including 1 in 5 people who are uninsured and 1 in 3 who are living in poverty.
The White House marked the national celebration of National Health Center Week (NHCW) by issuing a Presidential Proclamation, praising the extraordinary accomplishments of the health center program, which started as a small pilot during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Administration more than half a century ago:
“President Johnson’s philosophy was simple: in a ‘Great Society,’ no one is left behind. Today, that ideal lives on. Health centers provide quality medical, dental, and behavioral health care services to more than 30 million Americans each year, and they remain a cornerstone of our public health system. During National Health Center Week, we celebrate the vital role these health centers play in safeguarding the well-being of Americans and honor the heroic staff who keep these facilities running.”
President Biden also committed to working with Congress to double the size of the Health Center Program to ensure more Americans “can access health care at an affordable price.”
“We deeply appreciate the support of the Biden Administration and the President’s recognition of the critical work health centers carry out in underserved communities—ensuring equitable access to life-saving health care,” said Rachel Gonzales-Hanson, Interim President and CEO of NACHC. “We’re also grateful for the Administration’s efforts to strengthen and support health centers as a vital partner in the public health infrastructure, so that we can continue to respond to COVID and other health challenges that may come our way.”
The NHCW celebration also began with an announcement from HHS of nearly $90 million in American Rescue Plan funding to nearly 1,400 health centers to advance health equity through better data collection and reporting.
“We have prioritized advancing equity in our COVID-19 response and throughout all of our work,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, in a press release. “Community health centers have played a pivotal role in the nation’s COVID-19 response, and now serve more than 30 million people across the country. Today’s investments will help ensure that all patients have equitable access to the high-quality health care they deserve.”
NACHC is also tracking hundreds of NHCW events across the country, including health fairs, tours of local health centers by bipartisan Members of Congress, block parties, cookouts, and Back-to-School events. A listing of events, as well as focus days of NHCW, can be found at www.healthcenterweek.org
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.