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(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today discussed the integral role that community health centers play in providing New Hampshire families with high-quality, low-cost health care during a visit to the Coos County Family Health Services in Berlin.  Shaheen, whose visit coincided with National Health Center Week, discussed provisions of the health care reform law that will provide a boost to the nation's network of community health centers. 

"Community health centers, like Coos Family Health Services, provide critical services to all residents of the community, regardless of their ability to pay," said Shaheen.  "Investing in our community health centers is the smart thing to do, and I was proud to support the recent health care reform law which will help increase access to these facilities for New Hampshire families."

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides $11 billion over five years - $1 billion this year - for community health centers to expand their operational capacity and enhance their medical, oral, and behavioral health services.  Research shows that health centers yield substantial cost savings to the health care system by reducing emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and other avoidable, costly care. 

"We're extremely grateful that Senator Shaheen stopped by today to visit our health center and meet representatives from our community-based Board of Directors, staff, and patients.  The Senator's support of our health center goes back to when she was New Hampshire's Governor and assisted us in our starting our Pharmacy Assistance Program, which last year distributed over $2 million dollars in free medications to our patients.  Her support for the concept of Community Health Centers continues today as she recently supported legislation which will enable CCFHS to expand services to include on-site behavioral and oral health as well as to have the opportunity to build a new facility to better serve the needs of the residents of the Androscoggin Valley," said Adele D. Woods, MS, CEO of Coos Family Health Services.

The health care reform law also addresses health care workforce needs, which is of particular importance to a region like Coos County that has too few primary care providers to service the needs of the population.  The legislation makes a substantial investment in the National Health Service Corps, which will help attract talented doctors to underserved regions of the country. 

At the end of July, Shaheen announced that she had secured $150,000 through the Senate Appropriations Committee for the construction of a new facility for Coos County Family Health Services.  The funding must still be approved by the full Senate.