THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today I am pleased to sign into law S. 1044, the "Health Centers Consolidation Act of 1996." This bill will ensure that millions of the Nation's most vulnerable citizens continue to have access to high-quality, affordable, community-based, and family-focused primary and preventive health care services.
The bill reauthorizes and consolidates four Federal health primary care and prevention programs: community health centers, migrant health centers, health care for the homeless, and health care for residents of public housing programs. By empowering communities to design and develop their own local solutions to their health care access problems, this legislation will help to improve the health status of our Nation's medically underserved, low-income populations. The Nation's health centers, comprised of over 700 organizations and 2,100 service delivery sites, provides health care services to almost 8 million people annually. They act as the safety net for millions of people who are disproportionately poor and have inadequate or no health insurance.
Another important feature of S. 1044 is the establishment of a new Federal loan guarantee program to support the development and operation of managed care networks. Health centers across the country have come to recognize the critical importance of forming or being a part of integrated, managed care health systems. As the delivery of health care moves toward managed care arrangements, particularly for the Medicaid population, health centers must be able to participate in these arrangements in order to continue to ensure access to health care services for medically underserved individuals. The new loan guarantee program will assist the health centers to function effectively in this changing environment.
The bill will also reinforce the policies of this Administration to streamline Federal programs. It will consolidate grants without decreasing services, thereby easing the burden on communities applying for assistance and reducing the Federal cost of administering these programs.
In signing this legislation today, I underscore this Administration's commitment to address the needs of medically underserved inner city and rural areas. The programs reauthorized by S. 1044 will play a critical role in ensuring access to cost-effective, high-quality preventive and primary health care services and improving the health status of the Nation's most vulnerable populations.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE,
October 11, 1996.
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