Over half a century ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson piloted a program to deliver affordable primary health care to Americans who needed it most. He helped establish health centers in underserved areas, making medical services available to people regardless of age, geography or economic status. President Johnson’s philosophy was simple: in a “Great Society” no one is left behind. Today, this ideal lives on. Health centers provide high-quality medical, dental and behavioral health services to more than 30 million Americans each year, and they remain a cornerstone of our public health system. During National Health Center Week, we celebrate the important role these health centers play in safeguarding the well-being of Americans and honor the heroic staff who keep these facilities running.
Health care is a right, not a privilege. Yet many struggle to get the medical services they need. Nearly 4 million Americans remain barred from the Medicaid expansion, and millions more find it difficult to afford prescription drugs, mental health services and preventive screenings. Access to care is also often unequal—black and brown Americans, rural residents, Native American tribes and Alaska Natives, and low-income families consistently report lower coverage rates and less access to primary care. Federally funded health centers meet these challenges by providing medical services—particularly to communities of color, rural communities, and individuals living in poverty—through nearly 1,400 community-based organizations that operate over 14,000 service delivery sites. Given that clinics operate under a patient-majority governing body, health centers ensure that decisions are directly informed and made by those served.
Since taking office, my administration has strengthened the nation’s health center network. Last year, we invested $7.6 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to strengthen health center workforces, renovate facilities, and equip them with essential medical supplies for COVID-19. We also allocated $400 million from the American Rescue Plan to create a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and AmeriCorps to train the next generation of public health workers, including in community health centers. We prevented disease and treated disease for millions of Americans. We helped pay the salaries of over 272,000 full-time health workers and support staff.
Health centers are central to many of the administration’s priorities. From reducing cancer death rates by ensuring equitable access to cancer screenings and preventive care to helping Americans live healthier lives through new digital health technologies, we want to ensure that health centers are equipped for the future of health care. I remain committed to working with Congress to double the size of the health center program, to put even more Americans to work in these centers across our country, and to ensure that each of us can access affordable health care price.
During National Health Center Week, let’s recognize our health centers and staff for their outstanding contributions to communities across America. Let’s thank them for their commitment, their service and their commitment to a stronger, healthier and fairer healthcare system.
THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, declare, the week of August 7-Aug. 13, 2022, as National Health Center Week.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
fifth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-two, and of the independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.