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Senate Reauthorizes Funding for Community Health Centers

On July 21, the Senate approved, by voice vote, the Health Care Safety Net Act (S. 901). Originally known as the Health Care Centers Renewal Act, the bill would reauthorize funding for community health care centers and programs for uninsured patients, including the Community Health Centers program, the National Health Service Corps, and the Rural Health Care programs. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passed S. 901 on November 14 (see The Source,11/16/07); the House approved a similar version of the measure (H.R. 1343) on June 4 (see The Source, 6/6/08).

The bill would authorize $2.065 billion for FY2008, $2.313 billion for FY2009, $2.602 billion for FY2010, $2.940 billion for FY2011, and $3.337 billion FY2012 for the Community Health Centers Program within the Public Health Service and would reauthorize Rural Health Care Programs at $45 million annually from FY2008-2012.

Among other provisions, the bill would require the United States comptroller general to study the cost effectiveness and impact of establishing school-based health centers. S. 901 also would require the secretary of Health and Human Services to study health care quality in community health centers and identify strategies, technical assistance, and partnerships with federal agencies, private organizations, or networks that may help to improve health care quality in such centers.

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