The majority of Montana’s community health centers (CHCs) are either located in or support satellite sites in rural communities across the state. Community Health Partners (CHP), with locations and services in Belgrade, Bozeman, Livingston and West Yellowstone, is part of a network of clinics that help all Montanans access quality primary care where they live. By providing care in Montana’s small towns, CHCs meet the needs of local school teachers, farmers and ranchers, seasonal agricultural workers, and anyone else who calls our state’s wide-open spaces home.

Access to affordable, comprehensive primary health care is vital to wellness, but unfortunately, in rural states such as Montana, long-distance travel or transportation to a provider’s office can pose a challenge. Without local access, easily preventable or manageable health conditions are left untreated due to winter roads, unreliable transportation or lack of time to travel. In the U.S., some 250 rural counties across the nation are without any providers. Sixty-two million people (including many with employer-sponsored health insurance) live in areas that have few or no options for primary care.

The community health center program, a federally funded grant program, is designed to address lack of access to primary care in rural and underserved communities. By delivering high quality primary health care across the country, the CHC model demonstrates a significant return on investment for taxpayers and appreciates the bi-partisan support of Congress. Up for renewal, the CHC Program needs Congress to secure long-term health center funding for the people and communities we serve. The board, staff and patients of CHP are counting on Montana’s leaders to get the job done.

Lander Cooney