Rep. Barbara Lee started the week by accompanying a White House official to tout economic stimulus spending in the East Bay, and she finished it the same way.
Lee, D-Oakland, toured Oakland’s San Antonio Neighborhood Health Center on Friday morning with Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama’s Senior Advisor and Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement.
La Clinica de La Raza, which operates this and 24 other community health centers in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties, received $2.1 million in capital-improvement funds and $880,000 to support increased demand for services under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, not to mention $382,000 in other earmarks requested by Lee for facility improvements. CEO Jane Garcia said many of the patients served by La Clinica – which has more than 650 employees, at least 18 of whom were hired with Recovery Act money – are recently unemployed and uninsured.
Lee, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, said she and other caucus leaders met Thursday with President Obama to discuss health-care reform legislation, which in its current form carries another $11 billion for community health centers. It’s part of an overall philosophy that health care is “a basic human right rather than a privilege,” she said.
Jarrett praised the facility, calling it proof positive that the Recovery Act funds are being well-spent.
And Lois Watkins of Oakland, who said she has been a patient at the center since 1985, said that “to us seniors it’s a blessing, it’s a godsend;” she embraced Lee and Jarrett as staffers applauded.