On October 16,2002, the House approved final legislation (S. 1533) negotiated with the Senate to reauthorize safety net programs including the Community Health Centers program, National Health Service Corps and Rural Health Outreach and Network Grants Program. Earlier this year, the Senate passed its version of the bill (S. 1533). It appears likely that the Senate will pass this version of the bill this week. The President is expected to sign the bill.
The Health Care Safety Net Amendments Act (S. 1533) would also create several new programs including the Rural Emergency Medical Service Training and Equipment Assistance program and a program authorizing funding for Mental Health Services Provided Via Telehealth and would authorize a new Healthy Communities Access Program.
Reauthorization of these critical programs has been a top priority of rural organizations for several years. The anticipated successful passage of this bill is due in part to the efforts of organizations such as the National Rural Health Association who worked to make Congress aware of the necessity of continuing these important rural health programs.
A summary of the legislation is on the NRHA Web site at www.nrharural.org. Please contact Eli Briggs, NRHA's Government Affairs office, with any questions at or 703-519-7910.