Bilirakis Hosts Productive Conversation between Local and National Health Care Leaders
Washington, DC: Congressman Bilirakis was honored to partner with Dr. George Sigounas, Administrator of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), to host members of the Tampa Bay health care community for a targeted discussion about how the quality of patient care can be improved through the programs over which HRSA has jurisdiction. Highlights of the meeting, which was held at the Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Tarpon campus, included feedback from local patients, pharmacists, physicians, substance abuse professionals, dentists and public health officers. The discussion centered around utilizing and improving existing resources, such as community health centers, telemedicine and the 340B pharmacy program to improve access to care and improve public health outcomes. Several obstacles to achieving these desired goals were identified including: the need for long-term funding and reauthorization of Community Health Centers, of which Congressman Bilirakis is a tireless champion, the need for greater transparency and accountability within the 340B program, which Congressman Bilirakis and the Energy and Commerce Committee is currently considering, the need for CMS to expand reimbursement policies for telemedicine, which the Health Subcommittee is reviewing, and the need for the VA to be more flexible in allowing Veterans access to receiving comprehensive care through Community Health Centers, which Congressman Bilirakis is working on in the VA Committee. Both Congressman Bilirakis and Dr. Sigounas appreciated the input and pledged to continue working on these important policy matters in Washington.
“The insight provided by the patients and medical professionals during the roundtable was incredibly helpful. It reinforced my belief that we are moving in the right direction” said Bilirakis. “Community Health Centers represent what is working within our health care system. Both Premier and the Community Centers of Pinellas are the best kept secrets in town. The insured, uninsured and underinsured can all go to a beautiful facility and receive the highest possible quality of care by skilled professionals who offer primary care, women’s health services, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and dental care. This model is cost-effective and it works. We have to continue to expand it, and give them the certainty they need for long-term planning, which is why I will continue to fight on their behalf for a multi-year reauthorization during upcoming budget negotiations. We also must make sure that HRSA has the authority it needs to ensure its programs, like 340B operate as intended and in a cost effective and transparent manner. I was inspired by the passionate advocacy for patients by everyone who participated in the discussion and look forward continuing that patient-centered focus as we work on these issues in Washington,” he added.