Bilirakis Hosts Health-Care Roundtable
The discussion centered on improving patient care in programs that are overseen by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Tarpon Springs, recently hosted a discussion with members of the Tampa Bay health-care community that focused on ways to improve the quality of patient care through the programs that are administered by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
Bilirakis partnered with Dr. George Sigounas, HRSA administrator, for the meeting, which was held at the Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Tarpon campus. Highlights included feedback from local patients, pharmacists, physicians, substance abuse professionals, dentists and public health officers.
The discussion centered around using 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, the need for greater transparency and accountability within the 340B program, the need for CMS to expand reimbursement policies for telemedicine, and the need for the U.S. Veterans Administration to be more flexible in allowing veterans access to receiving comprehensive care through Community Health Centers.
Billirakis said he is already working to see that many of those goals are attained; including, funding for Community Health Centers, the expansion of reimbursement policies for telemedicine, and more flexibility in allowing veterans to seek care through Community Health Centers.
“The insight provided by the patients and medical professionals during the roundtable was incredibly helpful,” Bilirakis said. “It reinforced my belief that we are moving in the right direction.”
Bilirakis added, “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.”
Bilirakis represents Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Pasco and the northern parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
For information about Bilirakis, go to bilirakis.house.gov.
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