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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

25 Percent Of Vermonters Expected To Use Health Center Services

AP/Toby Talbot
Sen. Bernie Sanders visits a mobile dental unit at the Plainfield Health Center in 2012

An expansion of Vermont’s network of Federally Qualified Community Health Centers will add more than 30 thousand patients to the rolls of those being served.

Three new centers are opening in Bristol, Randolph and Arlington.

The Battenkill Valley Health Center in Arlington, which is expected to open in January, is the first of Vermont’s 11 centers to be located in Bennington County.

Beth Wennar, who serves on the center’s board says the facility will fill a critical need.

“We have one family medicine physician in Arlington that’s been there about 26 years. He was at significant risk and we were about to lose access. This will really help us to maintain things in our area,” Wennar says.

The community health centers are funded under the Affordable Care Act and operate throughout the country. 

Senator Bernie Sanders says in the coming year one-quarter of Vermonters will receive care through them once all the centers are operating. Vermont is believed to have the highest per-capita participation among the 50 states, slightly ahead of West Virginia.

"We welcome Medicaid, we welcome Medicare," Sanders says.  "If you don’t have any insurance there’s a sliding scale. We think that if American moves as aggressively as Vermont does, the health care outcomes will be a hell of a lot better and we think we’re going to save money as well.”

The 11 community health centers operate 51 satellite facilities around the state. In addition to medical care, the community health centers also provide dental care and mental health counseling.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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