Congressman Richard Hudson promotes bipartisan community health clinic policy

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MONCURE — Republican Congressman Richard Hudson came to the Moncure Community Health Center last Thursday to give a briefing on a new bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate allowing for community health clinics in rural communities to use federal grants to pay for mobile clinics.

“Community clinics are really important here,” Hudson said. “A lot of folks that wouldn’t have access to care can get it, and they serve over 350,000 people in our state.”

Hudson co-sponsored a bill with three representatives Susie Lee (D-N.V.), Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-C.A.), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-W.A.) to allow community health clinics — such as the one in Moncure — to use federal funding to go towards creating mobile outreach clinics. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on Tuesday, Oct. 18, according to a press release from Hudson.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, community health clinics were only allowed to use federal grants for “brick and mortar” additions to facilities, not for mobile outreach efforts. But during the pandemic, the government lifted those brick-and-mortar restrictions and allowed facilities to use their federal funds to purchase mobile clinic supplies, such as buses, vans, medical equipment and more.

Hudson said clinics in his district advocated for the allowance to be made permanent, and that’s what kicked off the bipartisan effort.

“Mobile units are a much more effective way to reach more of the community,” Hudson said. “They can take that mobile unit out to schools, to a community center … and so it gives a lot more flexibility. My bill was to change the federal grant program, so that will open up access.

The North Carolina congressman toured Piedmont Health’s Moncure Community Health Center, which helps more than 250 patients a week across several different medical disciplines including dentistry, pediatrics, pharmacy and more.

Hudson was able to see their mobile outreach clinic, as well as their in-house facilities and equipment.

“We pull up, and they’ve got a mobile unit sitting there, so I was really excited to see that,” Hudson said. “You walk in and it’s really light with different exam rooms with dental chairs … they’ve got they got vaccine fridges so they can keep those cold, and those are great. So they’re really taking the doctor’s office anywhere you want to go with it.”

Hudson said with the funding allocattion restrictions lifted, clinics like the one in Moncure can extend its reach beyond its walls. He hopes with the additional available funding, clinics will be able to find a way to help address disparities within the health care system.

“Communities like ours, they’re rural in nature, and we’ve got underserved populations may have trouble coming to a clinic,” Hudson said. “This gives us the ability to bring the clinic to them — to bring them this quality of care is going to improve their lives.”

Editor’s note: Hudson is seeking re-election to his seat this midterm election against Democrat challenger Ben Clark.

Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at theeden@chathamnr.com and on Twitter at @HeedenTaylor.

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