One in 13 Americans depends on the network of community health centers for access to primary health care. There are 281 federally qualified health centers in the United States, including two here in the 6th Congressional District.

St. Joseph’s Mercy Care and Oakhurst Medical Centers treat nearly 30,000 people every year who otherwise would have few or no health care options. St. Joseph’s and Oakhurst provide care at low or no cost, thanks in part to important federal funding. These centers serve the health care needs of the working poor, the unemployed and anyone else in need of primary medical care.

Through the network of CHCs, nearly 27 million Americans a year receive preventive care, cancer screenings and treatment for chronic conditions.

In the U.S. House, I fought to pass a budget that makes strong, vital investments in CHCs for the next two fiscal years. The president signed the bill into law Feb. 9, ensuring that the CHCs have the support and funding certainty they need to provide health care to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

Community health centers increase access to health care, improve patient outcomes, and are uniquely positioned to spread the benefits of community-based and patient-centered care.

Congress continues to work to address overall health care issues in this country, including access to care and the rising costs of health care and insurance. The repeal of the individual health insurance mandate is already having a positive impact, as insurance companies have begun offering new products to meet individual health insurance needs.

The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed regulations to expand short-term, limited-duration insurance, restoring the pre-Obamacare standard that these short-term insurance plans can be offered for up to 364 days.

More work, however, is needed. I am committed to continuing the effort to find meaningful solutions that lower costs, increase competition and expand treatment opportunities for everyone in this country.

Karen Handel represents Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, stretching from Marietta to Brookhaven and from Milton to Sandy Springs.