More than half a century ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson piloted a program to provide affordable primary health care to Americans who needed it most. He helped establish community health centers in underserved areas, making medical services accessible 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 quality medical, dental and behavioral health services to more than 30 million Americans each year and remain a cornerstone of our public health system. During National Health Centers Week, we celebrate the vital 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. However, many people still struggle to get the medical services they need. Nearly 4 million Americans remain excluded from the Medicaid expansion, and millions more struggle to afford prescription drugs, mental health services and screenings. Access to care is also often unequal — Black and brown Americans, rural residents, American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, and low-income families consistently report lower coverage rates and less access to primary care. Federally funded health centers meet these challenges head-on by providing medical services—particularly to communities of color, rural communities, and people living in poverty—through nearly 1,400 community organizations operating over 14,000 service locations. Since clinics operate under the board of directors of the majority of patients, health centers ensure that decisions are directly informed and made by those served.
Since taking office, my Administration has strengthened our Nation’s network of health centers. Last year, we invested $7.6 billion in America’s Rescue Plan funds to strengthen health center workforces, renovate facilities, and equip them with essential COVID-19 medical supplies. We also allocated $400 million from the America’s 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 community health centers. We have prevented disease and cured disease for millions of Americans. We’ve helped pay salaries for more than 272,000 full-time health workers and support staff.
Health centers are central to many of my administration’s priorities. From reducing the cancer death rate by ensuring equitable access to cancer screenings and preventive care to helping Americans live healthier lives through new digital health technologies — we will ensure health centers are equipped for the future of health care. I remain committed to working with Congress to double the size of the Health Centers Program, put even more Americans to work in these centers across our country, and 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 dedication, service and commitment to a stronger, healthier and fairer health system.
NOW, 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, do hereby proclaim the week of August 7 through August 13, 2022, as of the National Health Center.
IN FAITH OF THE ABOVE, I must 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.