Washington - As health care reform transitions from the discussion phase to the legislative phase in Congress, US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Finance Committee, today introduced a resolution that would recognize the importance of health safety-net providers, such as community health centers, in the reform process. The resolution, co-sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), would put Congress on the record in support of the following sentiments:

•All individuals should have the choice of a community health center as their health care home and every health center should be appropriately reimbursed for the high-value preventive and primary care they provide;

•Health care reform should include measures to expand community health centers in order to reach more individuals who need a health care home;

•The current payment mechanisms for Federally-qualified health centers through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program are essential to ensuring access to affordable and high-quality preventive and primary care services for beneficiaries of such programs; and

•Any expansion of private insurance must include mechanisms to ensure the full participation of, and appropriate reimbursement to, Federally-qualified health centers and other safety net providers in order to ensure adequate access to care for those individuals who are medically underserved or disenfranchised.

•Ensuring access to all safety net providers - including Federally-qualified health centers - will be vital to ensuring that health care reform is successful in expanding access, improving quality, and reducing cost.

"Health safety-net providers, such as community health centers, are vital to ensuring that quality and affordable health care is widely accessible, and they should be a key part of our health care reform plans," said Menendez. "These centers provide important health services for underserved families, which is not only morally important, but it helps drives down health care costs and reduces strain on hospitals for everyone. We need to make sure that these centers are sustained through a fair reimbursement system."