Health Center To Hold Free Clinic

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(Host) Senator Bernie Sanders wants you to go to the doctor.

Sanders appeared at the Community Health Center in Burlington to promote a free clinic that organizers hope will see 100 patients on Sunday.

Sanders says primary care centers like the one in Burlington are an essential part of national health care reform.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Sanders helped secure a commitment in the Senate’s version of the health bill for $10 billion dollars to expand federally qualified health centers.

He says the program will fill two needs: It will boost the number of primary care providers, and it will lower the cost of care by catching disease early. Sanders says too many people fail to visit a physician because they can’t afford health care.

(Sanders) "We have 45,000 people this year, who will die, who will die because they don’t get to a doctor’s office on time, and that is unconscionable."

(Dillon) Federally qualified health centers provide primary care – including dental clinics and mental health services – on a sliding scale basis.

Sanders says the centers enjoy bi-partisan support – President George W. Bush was a fan – because they provide care in underserved areas, and because they save taxpayer money in the long run.

(Sanders) "The expansion of primary health care capability is integral to any serious health care reform. Every American should have access to a doctor when he or she needs access. And when you do that, you improve people’s health. You keep them from getting very, very sick. And you know what else you do? You actually save the system money by keeping them out of an emergency room."

(Dillon) Sanders main mission at his news conference was to get out the word of the Burlington center’s free health care day on Sunday.

(Sanders) "The door is open. If you have not seen a doctor in recent years because you didn’t have the money, come on in. If you have a persistent health problem that has not been looked at, come on in, there will be no charge whatsoever."

(Dillon) The free clinic in Burlington is being organized by the Community Health Center and Fletcher Allen Hospital. The clinic can see a maximum of 100 people.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Burlington.

(Host outro) Organizers do have one request: They’d like you to call to make an appointment. The number is 802 864-6309.

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