Five-town group plans Bristol health center

Five-Town Health Alliance (5THA) is a community group committed to making comprehensive health and dental care available to all residents of northern Addison County, regardless of age or ability to pay. With the support of Gov. Jim Douglas, Sen. Sanders, and local legislators, 5THA is moving forward with plans to locate a Community Health Center in the Bristol area with easy access to services, schools, and public transportation routes. The Community Health Center program (also termed Federally Qualified Health Center, or FQHC) is a high quality, cost effective way of improving the health of communities. Efficient use of taxpayer dollars gained the Health Center Program the highest performance rating from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). In 2002, the Bush administration, recognizing the value of community health centers, began a major effort to enlarge the community health center system with a goal of doubling the number of people served by health centers over a five-year period. Fees at community health centers are income sensitive with income-based sliding fee scales for those who lack insurance. In addition, all health insurance plans, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, MVP, CIGNA, Dr. Dynasaur, the Vermont Health Access Plan, Catamount, Medicaid and Medicare are available at community health centers. According to some surveys, communities with community health centers are attractive places to live, to grow a business, and to grow a family. A 2004 economic report of Vermont shows that the Community Health Center of Burlington, a 5THA collaborator, had an overall economic impact on the local economy of $10.6 million, including the generation of 148 full-time jobs. Learn more about this exciting project. Meetings open to the public; 7:309 a.m., first and third Thursdays of the month. Call in advance for agenda and location: Elissa Close, chairwoman of the 5THA Steering Committee, at 453-2330.

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