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Washington, D.C. —  Last night the U.S. Senate passed the Health Care Safety Net Act (S. 901), which reauthorizes the Community Health Centers Program, by unanimous consent. Senator John Thune is a cosponsor of the legislation and has supported annual increases in funding for the community health centers program.

"We face many challenges in providing the same quality health care available in big cities to rural areas," said Thune. "Community health centers are a powerful mechanism in bridging the divide between larger cities and underserved rural areas in South Dakota and beyond."

Community health centers are community-owned, non-profit health care providers located in medically underserved areas. These facilities expand access to primary and preventative care for the uninsured and reduce costs for both families and state and federal health programs by providing an alternative setting for care other than emergency rooms. South Dakota is served by 31 community health centers.

In addition to reauthorizing the Health Centers program through 2012, the Health Care Safety Net act would authorize $45 million per year to be specifically targeted at rural health care improvement grant programs. The bill also reauthorizes the National Health Service Corps program, which places physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, and other health professionals in rural and underserved areas.

The Senate-passed bill must now be reconciled with H.R. 1343, the companion legislation passed by the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the President for his consideration.

    Below is a list of Community Health Centers in South Dakota:
  • Stanley-Jones Memorial Clinic, Presho;

  • Oahe Valley Health Center, Fort Pierre;

  • Jones County Clinic, Murdo;

  • Onida Clinic, Onida;

  • Highmore Clinic, Highmore;

  • Mellette County Health Clinic, White River;

  • Community Care Clinic, Gettysburg;

  • Family Health Center of Eagle Butte;

  • Mission Medical Clinic, Mission;

  • Jerauld County Clinic, Wessington Springs;

  • Isabel Community Clinic, Isabel;

  • Aurora County Clinic, Plankinton;

  • Whiting Memorial Clinic, Woonsocket;

  • Bennett County Community Health Center, Martin;

  • Faith Community Health Center, Faith;

  • McIntosh Community Clinic, McIntosh;

  • Bell Medical Services, De Smet;

  • Prairie Winds Dental Clinic, Howard;

  • Bryant Community Health Center, Bryant;

  • Bison Community Clinic, Bison;

  • Lake Preston Community Health Center, Lake Preston;

  • Salvation Army Outreach, Rapid City;

  • Community Health Center of the Black Hills, Rapid City;

  • Community Health Center of the Black Hills Oral Health Center, Rapid City;

  • Cornerstone Rescue Mission Men's Site, Rapid City;

  • Cornerstone Rescue Mission, Women's and Children's Site, Rapid City;

  • Flormann Health Center, Rapid City;

  • Falls Community Health, Sioux Falls;

  • Alcester Medical Center, Alcester;

  • Community Health Clinic, Elk Point.