Please allow us to respond to your article on community health centers ("Reform Reaches People in Need Through Health Centers," April 7 Health). Through our position as co-chairs of the House Republican Policy Committee's Health Care Task Force, we have looked closely at the valuable role community health centers play.
In fact, we are the sponsors of legislation to devote already existing state funds to expand hours and services of such health centers in urban, rural or suburban locations. Our legislation stands in stark contrast to the new federal health care law, which supports expanding only a small percentage of existing community health centers in Pennsylvania, far short of the need we are addressing with our bill.
We are pleased that to qualify for federal funding, centers must be open to everyone, regardless of ability to pay; offer a comprehensive set of services; and be community owned and operated. However, this law penalizes community health centers located in rural areas or those with low per capita incomes.
Community health centers to benefit from federal funding must be located in areas with high poverty, high rates of uninsured and have lots of sick people. The reality is that communities with successful health centers would encourage preventative health care and that the poorest are not necessarily the ones with the greatest medical need. In our areas of rural Lancaster and suburban Bucks counties, we see the uninsured and underinsured in every facet of our population.
Unfortunately, there will be dozens of community health centers among a strong network that will not qualify for funding, even though they provide a critical need in their communities. As a result, this law leaves big holes in a safety net needed to ensure affordability and accessibility of health care.
REP. KATHY WATSON
REP. BRYAN CUTLER
Rep. Watson of Bucks County represents the 144th District. Rep. Cutler of Lancaster County represents the 100th District.