Hope Clinic presents award to Congressman Joe Barton

Submitted photo.

ELLIS COUNTY — Ellis County Coalition for Health Options (dba Hope Clinic) presented Congressman Joe Barton (R-Ennis) with a special resolution from the clinic's board of directors Aug. 11 for his support of federal legislation that has extended for two more years critical mandatory funding for community health centers.

The board's gesture of appreciation was made to Barton during National Health Center Week, which was celebrated Aug. 9-15 and is an annual celebration recognizing the important role health centers have in providing community-based care.

The bill, H.R. 2, passed both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support and has since been signed into law by President Obama. Formally called the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, H.R. 2 included $7.2 billion in mandatory funding for the more than 9,000 health center locations nationwide that annually serve more than 23 million patients. In Texas, more than 1.1 million people receive care at community health centers at more than 350 sites in 118 counties.

For more than 45 years, community health centers have delivered comprehensive, high-quality preventive and primary health care to patients regardless of their ability to pay, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. During that time, community health centers have become the essential primary care medical home for millions of Americans, including some of the nation's most vulnerable populations.

To serve their communities, maintain services and recruit and retain staff, health centers must have sustainable sources of funding. Earlier this year, health centers nationwide faced what had been called a "health center funding cliff" that would have put Texas health centers in the position of declining services to nearly 200,000 patients and choosing which services and staff to cut at their centers. Hope Clinic currently serves 4,754 patients at its Waxahachie site. The potential impact of losing $420,000 in annual funding would have led to an estimated 1,023 patients losing their health care.

"The Hope Clinic board of directors expresses its deepest appreciation to Congressman Barton for his continued support of community health centers," said Jo Ann Livingston, board president. "H.R. 2's passage has allowed us to continue taking care of our patients, many of whom would not have a medical home without our being here."

Texas health centers keep communities healthy and productive by delivering high quality, cost-effective and accessible primary care to all individuals regardless of their ability to pay, providing services such as pediatrics, women's health, general primary medical care, behavioral health, dental, pharmacy and lab testing. Health centers are here for everyone, regardless of health condition, age or insurance status.

For more information on community health centers in Texas, visit the Texas Association of Community Health Centers at www.tachc.org.