WASHINGTON – Representative Tom Rice (R-S.C.) today co-sponsored the Maximizing Outcomes through Better Investments in Lifesaving Equipment for (MOBILE) Health Care Act. This bipartisan legislation would allow for greater flexibility for grants awarded to community health centers, so they are able to use funds to meet their own needs and improve care delivery for those in the community.

“We’ve seen great success in allowing Federally Qualified Health Centers to administer services through mobile units and other flexible options under temporary provisions enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of my district in South Carolina is rural and my constituents face limited healthcare options without these flexibilities. I’m pleased to support the MOBILE Health Care Act so grant funding can continue helping folks in these rural, medically underserved areas into the future,” said Rep. Tom Rice. 

Currently, the New Access Points Grant program (NAP) program, run by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), restricts existing FQHCs from using their NAP grants for construction costs or expanding their services via mobile clinics. 

The bill expands the allowable use criteria in the NAP program to include part-time mobile clinics and renovation, leasing, acquisition, and new construction of health centers within the program to increase access to affordable, accessible, quality health care services in rural and underserved communities. 

Background:

Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) are community-based health care providers that receive funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Health Center Program. HRSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for improving health care to geographically isolated, economically vulnerable, or medically vulnerable people.

FQHCs operate in every U.S. state, U.S. territory, and the District of Columbia to deliver affordable, accessible, quality, and value-based health care to millions of people regardless of their ability to pay. 

Across the country, 1 in 11 Americans – including 400,000 veterans and 8.7 million children – rely on Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) for their health care.

Nevada and Washington have piloted the use of mobile FQHC units acquired through other funding avenues, which have shown beneficial impacts in reaching hard-to-access communities. Mobile clinics have successfully delivered a range of medical services to rural, urban, and suburban communities, including pediatric dental care, vaccines, and mammogram services.