Congressman Cicilline Tours WellOne!

April 19th, 2011

U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) visited WellOne Primary Medical and Dental Care’s Pascoag center this week to discuss how to partner together to address the critical healthcare needs of Burrillville’s and Glocester’s citizens.

Cicilline recognized WellOne’s 100-year contribution to the local community. WellOne is not only amongst the oldest providers of public health services in Rhode Island but the entire United States, was the first officially designated Rural Health Clinic in the nation, and throughout its long history, has been a pioneer in the provision of public health services such as trailblazing community-wide immunization efforts, some the first dental clinics in the nation, the first facility in Rhode Island to utilize an autoclave sterilizing unit in a community setting, the first community health center in Rhode Island to implement rapid HIV testing, and together with Rhode Island’s other community health centers, created one of the first Medicaid HMO’s in the country (Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island), ranked consistently amongst the best Medicaid HMO’s in the nation.

Because of the lack of sufficient, locally available health services in rural areas, WellOne patients present numerous health disparities when compared to the general population. From its inception, WellOne has demonstrated the ingenuity of local efforts and how a rural community can come together to provide healing, relief, and comfort to its citizens. In addition to providing high-quality, low-cost primary medical, dental, and behavioral health services to all, regardless of ability to pay, WellOne participates in important chronic disease management initiatives such as the Rhode Island Chronic Care Collaborative, Rhode Island’s Women’s Cancer Screening project, the Healthy Schools Coalition to promote healthy eating, RI QuitWorks to combat smoking, and various NHPRI initiatives. WellOne offers an on-site laboratory, a discounted pharmacy program in conjunction with CVS pharmacy for patients without prescription drug coverage, and a sliding fee scale program for qualifying patients.

The purpose of yesterday’s visit was to discuss WellOne’s services to the community and how to assist with the burgeoning healthcare needs of Congressman Cicilline’s constituents in the face of difficult economic conditions and budgetary constraints. WellOne has seen a recent dramatic increase in the request for healthcare assistance. During 2010, WellOne provided over $810,000 of charity care to low-income patients, which represents an increase of 27% in the last two years and 7% of its total current budget. Based on a review of the reported income of its patients, 79% have income levels at or below 200% of the federal poverty level (an 8% increase in the last two years), 16% of patients have no health insurance, and 26% have Medicaid coverage. The number of uninsured patients that WellOne has treated since 2008 has increased an astounding 65%.

Particularly hard-hit are those individuals who earn more than 200% of the federally designated poverty level who are enduring hardships but do not qualify for federal assistance. WellOne continues to be the healthcare provider of last resort in the community. Many residents would forego healthcare were it not for WellOne.

“I was able to see firsthand in my tour this week the critical role that WellOne plays in addressing the health care needs of Rhode Islanders,” said Congressman Cicilline. “My experience at WellOne reinforces my strong opposition to the Republican budget which would cut funding for community health centers by $1 billion. What that really means is that fewer Rhode Islanders would be able to access cost-saving preventive care provided by community health centers like WellOne. These cuts are contrary to the best interests of Rhode Island families and I will continue to fight to against them in Congress.”

“We are grateful to Congressman Cicilline for taking the time to visit our center,” said Peter J. Bancroft, WellOne President and CEO. “There is so much that WellOne can offer the community of which many of its members are unaware. We look forward to working together with the Congressman to continue to find better ways to serve the local citizens. Insured or uninsured alike, in these challenging economic times, everyone needs high-quality, low-cost healthcare.”

For additional information, please contact: Kathryn M. Franklin, Ph.D., Director of Development & Public Affairs; (401) 285-5153 or

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