Here's what usually happens in Washington when it comes to uninsured Americans gaining health care: Republicans shoot down a Democratic bill (see Hillary Care) or Democrats kill a Republican idea (see Bush tax credits for those without insurance).

But what has occurred in the House this summer is a miracle of sorts. Democrats and Republicans together backed sending $206 million more to community health centers, which largely serve poor and uninsured Americans.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has a chance to follow the House today in this attempt to help more uninsured Americans gain health care. An appropriations subcommittee voted Tuesday to spend only an extra $145 million for health centers. That's far short of what President Bush wants and what communities need. We hope Texas Sen. Kay Hutchison uses her seat on the Appropriations Committee to persuade colleagues to support the higher House figure.

In Dallas County, more funds would allow Los Barrios Unidos in West Dallas to expand; the center currently reaches about 20,500 patients yearly with services ranging from pre-natal care to geriatrics. About 80 percent of them are uninsured. Chief Executive Officer Leonor Márquez says her center would use extra federal funds to open a new site, and the center already has begun studying which neighborhoods most need services.

And it's not just the urban areas that need help. About half of the nation's community health centers serve rural communities, where health care is sparse.

Dan Shepherd, who runs the Community Health Services Agency that serves Collin, Hunt, Kaufman and Fannin counties, lives with this reality every day. He reports 80 percent or more of his center's patients are rural - and most come from families where at least one person works. He would use extra federal funds to buy more medicines for rural North Texans.

Washington hasn't done nearly enough to reduce the number of working families without insurance. Still, it's encouraging that the House, with support from North Texas Reps. Michael Burgess and Eddie Bernice Johnson, has taken up the cause. May the Senate now do its part, with Sen. Hutchison a key player in leading the way. This text is invisible on the page, but this text is affected by the invisible item's flow. This text is invisible on the page, but this text is affected by the invisible item's flow. More headlines...

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