“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
Source: Senator Kennedy (08/12/80), “And the Dream Shall Never Die,” Speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, accessed online 08/29/2009
Senator Edward M. Kennedy and His Support of America’s Health Centers

“He began his work in 1966 in Boston, after visiting the Columbia Point Health Center – a successful clinic bringing health care to low-income residents of the community. Kennedy came away impressed with the clinic's ability to provide treatment to low-income populations. He was aware of a similar clinic in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, and saw in the two clinics a model that could be replicated across the nation to provide more health care to people who needed it. He introduced an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act that set aside $51 million to establish another 30 centers around the country. Today, as a direct result of Senator Kennedy's vision as a 34-year-old, first-term senator, 20 million low-income Americans receive access to quality primary care at 1,200 community health centers across all 50 states and U.S. territories. This success was the very beginning of Senator Kennedy's long journey to make health care a right for all Americans, not a privilege of the few.”

Source: Senator Kennedy’s website, Issues: Health Care, accessed 08/28/2009 at http://tedkennedy.org/service/item/health_care

Selected quotes

On why the Health Centers Program was created and deserving of ongoing support:


“Thirty years ago, Congress created the health centers program in response to an urgent need. At that time, there were growing numbers of Americans who lived in medically underserved areas and lacked access to basic primary care. And for the past three decades, the health centers program fulfilled the crucial role of a safety net for our nation's most vulnerable and underserved populations… Clearly, this program has been successful in meeting the goals of its creators… With the economy in its weakened state, the Congress cannot sit idly by as more and more Americans see their access to health care slip from their grasp. Once more, Congress must recognize a responsibility to ensure adequate health care to all Americans and strengthen the programs that have been proven effective in delivering care to the uninsured.”

Source: Senator Ted Kennedy (10/17/02), “Health Care Safety Net Amendments of 2002,” Congressional Record online accessed 08/29/2009 at http://frwebgate2.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/TEXTgate.cgi?WAISdocID=8ItJ5B/5/1/0&WAISaction=retrieve.

On supporting Community Health Centers:

“I support Community Health Centers because I think they provide essential health services with reaching out into a community for appropriate health interventions with an emphasis on prevention, and also in meeting health care needs in a climate and atmosphere [where] the recipients feel welcome, and they do it in a cost-effective way and are really good neighbors in terms of being a part of the community. The people in the community have confidence in them and it’s reciprocated… And in so many different ways that are community appropriate kinds of services, health centers are really an extraordinary example of responding to very significant health needs.” Source: David Reynolds (1999), “An Analysis of the Political & Economic Viability of Community Health Centers: Implications for Their Future.” Dissertation submitted at University of Michigan, Appendix 3C, page 123-4. On the role of health centers in the nation’s health: “Mr. President, community and migrant health centers play a vital role in bringing affordable and accessible community-based primary care to millions of Americans in underserved areas. Since its beginning in 1966, the Community Health Center[s] Program has been the backbone of Federal efforts to bring quality health care to needy persons and areas throughout the country. …Community Health Centers are becoming even more important as the number of people who lack insurance continues to rise… The centers already face a changing health landscape that brings with it both opportunities and threats to the future viability of the centers.”

Source: Senator Ted Kennedy (09/20/96), “Health Centers Consolidation Act of 1995.” Congressional Record (Senate), accessed online 8/27/2009 at http://frwebgate2.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/TEXTgate.cgi?WAISdocID=LT9aYV/24/1/0&WAISaction=retrieve.

On the importance of consumer-directed health center governance boards:

“…I think the consumer aspect of it in terms of involvement has been key to its success and its services to the community.”

Source: David Reynolds (1999), “An Analysis of the Political & Economic Viability of Community Health Centers: Implications for Their Future.” Dissertation submitted at University of Michigan, Appendix 3B, page 119.

“What impresses me the most is the ability of health centers to deliver comprehensive primary and preventive care in a cost effective manner to populations in the hard-to-reach communities. Centers are able to do this, in part, because they are community organizations governed by consumer boards and operated on a local level. This puts them in touch with the needs of the local population. Health centers are non-profit – they don’t put their bottom line ahead of their vision of delivering quality are to Americans most in need”

Source: David Reynolds (1999), “An Analysis of the Political & Economic Viability of Community Health Centers: Implications for Their Future.” Dissertation submitted at University of Michigan, Appendix 3C, page 124.

On health centers in the future and universal coverage:

“Health centers will be a critical part of the health delivery system in the context of universal health care as well. Health centers know how to break down barriers faced by the underserved populations, including cultural and language barriers, lack of transportation, lack of child care, etc. We know that the mere existence of insurance coverage does not guarantee access to quality care.”

Source: David Reynolds (1999), “An Analysis of the Political & Economic Viability of Community Health Centers: Implications for Their Future.” Dissertation submitted at University of Michigan, Appendix 3C, page 127.

“We can’t permit the development of health care systems that are going to be able to exclude [community health centers] in ways that even the existing health care systems have not been able to do. However the system will work, in terms of even a competitive kind of way, we can’t develop policies that effectively will exclude them, nor should we… [And] the need is going to be for the people they serve. It is going to be out there and enhanced.”

Source: David Reynolds (1999), “An Analysis of the Political & Economic Viability of Community Health Centers: Implications for Their Future.” Dissertation submitted at University of Michigan, Appendix 3B, page 120.

“One of the most shameful things about modern America is that in our unbelievably rich land, the quality of health care available to many of our people is unbelievably poor, and the cost is unbelievably high... There are some who say we cannot afford national health insurance... But the truth is, we cannot afford not to have national health insurance…The rising cost of health is not just a crisis that afflicts the poor and helpless. It has hit the suburbs, too. Millions of middle income citizens face the Hobson's choice of cutting back on health or other family needs…Every day, parents are deciding whether they can afford the $25 doctor office charge and the $25 laboratory bill when their child is sick. Elderly citizens are deciding whether to spend for food or rent or health. Young Americans are gambling on their health, signing up for cut-rate, fly-by-night insurance schemes because their budgets cannot afford the premium for a decent insurance policy… Together, we can lift that financial burden from all the families of America. Through national health insurance, we can provide a decent health care system for the benefit of the people of this land. We can make health care a basic right for all, not just an expensive privilege for the few.”

Source: Senator Ted Kennedy (12/09/78), “Health Care for All. A Right Not a Privilege,” Speech at the Democratic National Convention on Health Care in Memphis, Tennessee accessed online 8/28/2009 at http://cfadm.3cdn.net/6b71d7d6109cc74185_cvm6ii00h.pdf.

On inclusion of health centers in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009:

“Tom and everyone there. Ted Kennedy calling in. Congratulations on the progress that’s made on the health centers – that’s a real breakthrough, you did a terrific job. I’m just delighted, I’m following it closely, I’m there to support you and I will be keeping in touch. All the best, my friends.”

Source: Voicemail message from Senator Kennedy (2/26/09) to NACHC President/CEO Tom Van Coverden

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