Community Health Centers help all Montanans access health care

By John Felton, MPH, MBA, FACHE President & CEO / Health Officer RiverStone Health
Thursday, September 19, 2019

Guest Commentary

The majority of Montana’s community health centers are located, or support satellite sites, in rural communities. River-Stone Health Clinic, with locations and services in Billings, Bridger, Joliet, and Worden as well as school-based clinics at Orchard elementary and Medicine Crow Middle Schools, is part of a network of clinics that help all Montanans access quality primary care. By providing care in Montana’s small towns, CHCs meet the needs of schoolteachers, farmers and ranchers, seasonal agricultural workers, and everyone who calls our state’s wide-open spaces home.

Access to affordable, comprehensive primary healthcare is vital to wellness, but unfortunately, in rural states, long-distance travel or transportation to a healthcare provider’s office can pose a challenge. Without access, easily preventable or manageable health conditions can be left untreated. There are 250 rural counties across the nation without a healthcare provider. Sixty-two million people (including many with employer sponsored health insurance) live in areas that have few or no options for primary care.

Community health centers, in part, are funded through a federal grant designed to increase access to primary care in rural and underserved communities. By delivering high quality primary healthcare across the country, the CHC model demonstrates a significant return on investment for taxpayers and appreciates the bi-partisan support of Congress. Up for renewal, the CHC program needs Congress to secure long-term funding for the people and communities we serve. The staff and board of RiverStone Health Clinic are counting on Montana’s Congressional delegation to get the job done.

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