Health care access for all

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John Mengenhausen is the chief executive officer of Horizon Health Care, a network of 32 Community Health Centers across South Dakota. The clinics at Isabel, McIntosh, Eagle Butte, Faith and LaPlant are part of the network.

With 800,000 people spread throughout the state, South Dakota’s biggest challenge with the coronavirus pandemic is not distancing high concentrations of people, but rather providing quality health care to populations in rural and remote communities. Residents in remote locations rely on Community Health Centers for medical care, dental care, and mental health services because these health centers are often the only option available. Fortunately, all Community Health Centers provide care to everyone regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay.

Because of lost revenue from routine appointments and the additional resources needed to fight COVID-19, Community Health Centers across the country are laying off employees and closing primary care sites due to a shortage of operational funds. In the latest stimulus bill, Congress passed a mandatory federal funding extension for Community Health Centers until November 30 and provided $1.32 billion in emergency funding to help the situation. While this is a good start, we need Congress to go back to the table for additional emergency and long-term funding to give Community Health Centers greater financial security during this time of crisis.





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