Committee Hears O’Halleran Bills to Improve Health Care in Rural, Tribal Communities

June 5, 2019
Contributed Columns

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) joined the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health to testify on two bipartisan bills he introduced this year to reauthorize the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI).

“I am committed to fighting to improve access to health care for rural, tribal, and other underserved communities where hardworking families and veterans often travel hundreds of miles for basic care. Today, I spoke about two of my bills that ensure community health centers can continue their important work and provide tribal communities with resources to reduce diabetes across Indian Country,” O’Halleran said. “Improving access to care is not a partisan issue, and I am pleased to see the broad support from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle today. I look forward to championing these bills and working to get them passed this year.”

The Community Heath Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act is a bipartisan bill that extends the CHCF for five years and includes funding increases to ensure community health centers can continue to match demand for care.

Community health centers are the primary care medical home for more than 26 million Americans living in every state and territory. In Arizona, they serve nearly 700,000 patients and employ 6,000 doctors, nurses, and medical staff.

“Rural and tribal communities often lack access to reliable, affordable health care services, and no one knows this more than the hundreds of thousands of patients in Arizona’s First Congressional District who rely on community health centers,” O’Halleran continued. “I introduced the CHIME Act to ensure these vital care centers continue receiving adequate funding to continue serving underserved populations.”

The Special Diabetes Program for Indians Reauthorization Act is a bipartisan bill that reauthorizes SDPI for five years and increases funding from $150 million to $200 million annually.

“I also introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program for Indians to address a health crisis that disproportionately affects tribal communities. Since its passage in 1997, the Special Diabetes Program has been effective at reducing the rates of diabetes across Indian Country. Congress must reauthorize this important program and ensure these communities have access to the health care resources they need,” O’Halleran said.

Both CHCF and SDPI are set to expire at the end of the fiscal year if they are not reauthorized.

O’Halleran is also a lead cosponsor of the Special Diabetes Program Reauthorization Act, which reauthorizes the program and increases annual funding to $200 million to match SDPI.