June 27, 2008

Senate Panel Approves $4.5 Million for Rhode Island in Labor-HHS Spending Plan

Reed and Whitehouse Include Funding for Key Rhode Island Health Care and Education Projects

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today announced that the Appropriations Committee has approved legislation including $2.75 million in funding for Rhode Island health care initiatives they requested as part of the 2009 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill. The bill also includes $1.75 million that Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, secured for key education and workforce training programs throughout the state.

“This funding will help expand several of Rhode Island’s health care centers and upgrade their technology systems and facilities. It is essential that our hospitals and health care providers have access to the best available resources so that they are able to serve our communities and save lives. The bill also includes critical funding for job training programs to strengthen Rhode Island’s workforce and help more people find jobs,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, which helps provide federal funds for health care, education, and employment programs across the country. “As the Administration has done with other vital domestic spending programs, President Bush vetoed last year’s version of this bill. Getting it signed into law will be an uphill battle, but I will continue to fight for this critical federal support for Rhode Island.”

“Health information technology has the potential to make health care more efficient and effective, and I am happy that this funding will help upgrade the technology infrastructure at health centers around our state,” said Whitehouse. “Rhode Island has long been a national leader in improving the quality of our health care system, and this funding will help ensure that we remain at the forefront of this important effort.”

Reed and Whitehouse secured funding in the 2009 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill for several key Rhode Island health care projects, including:

$900,000 for South County Hospital
South County Hospital will use this federal funding to support the development of an electronic community record that would link the hospital electronic medical record (EMR) with ambulatory practice electronic health record systems. This would position the region to participate in the state’s initiative to build one of the first patient-controlled repositories of clinical health records in the country.

$350,000 for Thundermist Health Center
Thundermist Health Center will use this federal funding to renovate its existing facility and expand into the remainder of the building in order to increase its current health center. With this expansion, Thundermist could add six medical exam rooms, two dental treatment rooms, and two counseling rooms, allowing Thundermist to double the number of providers at the health center and more than double the number of patients served from the existing 4,000 to a total of 9,000.

$300,000 for the Comprehensive Community Action Program
The Comprehensive Community Action Program (CCAP) will use this federal funding to implement an integrated electronic health record and practice management system. This management system will enable CCAP to become more efficient and provide cost savings that can be redirected to patient services. CCAP currently serves more than 10,000 patients per year through its health centers and this number is expected to grow.

$100,000 for Bayside Family Health Care
Bayside Family Health care, Inc. will use this federal funding to implement the NextGen Practice Management System and Electronic Health Records.

$100,000 for the Providence Community Health Centers
The Providence Community Health Center will use this federal funding to install an electronic health records system.

Additionally, Reed, as a member of the Subcommittee, secured funding in the bill for the following Rhode Island health, education, and workforce training initiatives:

$650,000 for St. Joseph Health Services
St. Joseph Health Services will use this federal funding to renovate the Fatima Hospital’s Emergency Room and help accommodate the growing volume of psychiatric patients. As one of the state’s busiest ERs, this project will create a new and appropriate intake environment for patients and clinicians as well as establish new treatment facilities specially designed for mental health patients. Each year there are approximately 35,000 visits to the Fatima Emergency room. This emergency room plays a vital role in meeting vital health care needs of members of the Rhode Island community.

$600,000 for Year Up Providence
Year Up Providence, in partnership with Johnson and Wales University and the Community College of Rhode Island, will use this federal funding to support its 13th Year Bridge to Careers and College. Year Up offers a one-year intensive technology training program to Rhode Island’s low-income young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. Year Up works with these individuals to provide the necessary education, experience, guidance and support to achieve economic self-sufficiency. This program serves as a 13th year bridge to careers and college for high school graduates and GED recipients who face considerable obstacles in making these transitions.

$350,000 for the Groden Center
The Groden Center will use this federal funding to develop a therapeutic job club for 15 adults with Asperger’s Syndrome (High Functioning Autism). Asperger’s Syndrome, one of several disorders on the Autism Spectrum, is characterized by emotional liability, anxiety, poor social functioning, and repetitive behaviors.

$350,000 for Tri-Town Economic Opportunity Committee
The Tri-Town Community Economic Opportunity Committee will use this federal funding to provide for health care facilities and equipment.

$300,000 for Rhode Island College Foundation
The Rhode Island College Foundation will use this federal funding to upgrade the Rhode Island College School of Nursing clinical laboratory designed to facilitate simulated learning. Incorporating technology utilized in clinical facilities, areas will be created to reproduce realistic patient care settings such as a basic hospital unit, critical care area, birthing center, and health assessment section.

$200,000 for Local Initiatives Support Coalition
Local Initiatives Support Coalition will use this federal funding to improve childcare programs and provider professional development. The money will support workshops and seminars that bring national experts to Rhode Island’s child care providers, non-profit organizations, and community development corporations; provide on-site technical assistance to childcare centers; and allow for development and dissemination of written resource materials.

$150,000 for Groundwork Providence
Groundwork Providence will use this federal funding to create a green landscaping job training program for at-risk youth and adults as well as a series of job training opportunities for adults in the emerging Green Building industry. The green landscaping job training program will offer 40 to 60 unemployed and/or underemployed individuals (including high-school aged youth who may not be ready or able to attend college) with training in programs such as Integrated Pest Management; proper storage and use of pesticides; use of native non-invasive plant species; and coastal landscape installation and maintenance. The Green Building initiative will offer a series of training opportunities for 120 underemployed and unemployed adults in the construction industry.

$150,000 for the Audubon Society of Rhode Island
The Audubon Society of Rhode Island will use this federal funding to develop the Environmental Education for Urban Schools Initiative. The Initiative will consist of a classroom curriculum and a refuge experience. During the in-classroom component, Audubon educators will travel to urban elementary schools and provide a curriculum appropriate, standards-based, hands-on, experiential environmental program. The field experience will bring students out of the classroom to one of Audubon’s wildlife refuges.

In an effort to strengthen national education and workforce training programs and provide assistance to families who are struggling, Senator Reed fought for the inclusion of funding for the following national programs:

$1.98 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and $590 million in emergency contingency funding. Senator Reed indicated he plans to try to increase this level of funding when the bill comes to the Senate floor.

$1.65 billion for Job Corps, an increase of 4.5% over last year and 2.5% over the President’s request. Job Corps is a residential training program that teaches young adults the skills they need to become employable and independent so they can find jobs or further education.

$171.5 million for the Library Services and Technology Act state grant program, which supports funding for a broad range of services and technology to help assure that library service is accessible to all. This funding level would finally allow full implementation of a 2003 law Reed authored to provide a more equitable distribution of state formula grants to smaller states like Rhode Island.

$63.8 million for the Leveraging Education Assistance Partnership (LEAP) program, which provides grants to states to assist them in providing need-based grants and community service work-study assistance to eligible postsecondary students.

$47.5 million for the Teacher Quality Enhancement (TQE) Grant program, an increase of nearly $14 million from last year. TQE is the only federal education initiative targeted directly to higher education-based teacher preparation in which 90% of the nation’s new teachers are trained.

Passing this bill out of the full Appropriations Committee is a critical first step in the lengthy appropriations process, which may not be completed until next year. The bill must now clear the Senate and also be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. It then goes to the President’s desk and would have to be signed into law. President Bush vetoed last year’s version of this bill, as well as a critical domestic spending package.

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