Remarks made by Rep. Capuano in Support of H.R. 3450, the Health Care Safety Net Improvement Act

October 1, 2002

"Mr. Speaker,"

"I rise today in support of H.R. 3450, the Health Care Safety Net Improvement Act. As a cosponsor of this bill and Co-Chair of the Community Health Center Caucus I'd like to thank Mr. Bilirakis and Mr. Brown for their leadership in bringing this legislation to the floor today."

"As you know, health centers were established over 35 years ago to provide access to quality preventive and primary health care for the medically underserved including the millions of Americans without health insurance, low income working families, members of minority groups, residents of rural areas, homeless persons, and agricultural farmworkers. Since their inception, health centers have served as a prototype for effective public-private partnerships, demonstrating an ability to meet pressing local health needs while being held accountable for meeting national performance standards."

"H.R. 3450 would reauthorize the National Health Service Corps program and authorize the Community Access Program. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, over 50 million people do not have a regular health care provider, including millions with public or private health insurance coverage. This legislation is vital in light of this data, including yesterday's Census Bureau study reporting the number of Americans who lack health coverage has increased again after a two-year decline. Specifically, one-third of Latinos lack coverage, far more than any other racial or ethnic group. More than 4 in 10 residents who are not citizens are uninsured, and more than one-quarter of high school dropouts have no insurance."

"Health Centers focus their efforts on these underserved and uninsured populations. H.R. 3450 continues to reaffirm the principles of health centers, by focusing on high-need areas while ensuring care to all, regardless of their ability to pay. Health centers across the nation have begun a five-year effort to expand services to millions more underserved patients. My District has over twenty-five health centers and my constituents rely on the dedicated staff to provide health care services to them and their families. We cannot jeopardize the extraordinary work of the health centers because of a lack of federal authorization."

"Mr. Speaker, I urge all Members of the House to support this bill and to ensure its passage and enactment this year. The House must move quickly to ensure that health centers can continue to provide high quality health care services to vulnerable populations in underserved communities across America."

"Thank You."