The legislation passed both the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. (Nevada Current file photo)
On Monday, President Biden signed a bill into law that increases flexibility for grants awarded to community health care centers to build part-time mobile clinics, and improve and expand current health care centers, after it received overwhelming bipartisan support in the U.S. House and Senate.
Sen. Rosen and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Maximizing Outcomes through Better Investments in Lifesaving Equipment for (MOBILE) Health Care Act earlier this year. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent.
Nevada Democratic Rep. Susie Lee was a lead sponsor of the legislation in the House, where 414 representatives voted for the bill, with only 7 Republicans voting no.
The bill aims to expand health care access in rural communities, including in Nevada, by letting community health care centers have the flexibility to use federal funds to create mobile health care sites, allowing them to reach under-served and hard-to-reach populations.
Mobile health care clinics increase access to health care for at-risk populations — 55% of clients who utilized these clinics were women, 59% were racial and ethnic minorities, 41% of clients were uninsured and 44% of clients relied on some form of public health insurance, according to a 2020 report published in the International Journal for Equity in Health.
The report notes that the most common services provided were primary care and preventive services.
“Too many of Nevada’s rural and underserved communities lack permanent health centers and reliable health care, which make mobile health centers indispensable in reaching them,” Rosen said. “We have to make health care more accessible.”
Lyon, Mineral and Nye counties rank as the least healthy in the state, according to the 2021 Nevada Rural and Frontier Health Data Book by the University of Nevada Reno’s School of Medicine.
The leading causes of death in 2018 in rural counties included heart disease, cancer, strokes, suicide, influenza and pneumonia.
The Nevada Primary Care Association, which is composed of the state’s community health care centers that deliver behavioral health care, primary health care and dental to over 111,000 residents, can use these mobile units to reach underserved populations in both rural and urban areas, said Nancy Bowen, CEO of Nevada Primary Care Association.
She said that may include visiting homeless resources, senior housing, and rural areas in Nevada that can’t support permanent medical facilities.
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