NEW BRUNSWICK – U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone said he is prioritizing the inclusion of $10 billion to modernize and build new federally qualified health centers in the budget reconciliation bill being assembled to pair with the infrastructure bill.

Pallone is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee so will have significant influence over what’s included in that part of the spending bill.

“A lot of the community health centers have said we need bricks and mortar infrastructure. We need to renovate our buildings. We need to expand our buildings,” he said.

Pallone says House Democrats are also seeking to include provisions that would extend or make permanent Affordable Care Act subsidies and to expand Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing coverage.

Pallone was joined in Middlesex County by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, as well as Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who is currently acting governor as Gov. Phil Murphy vacations in Italy.

Becerra said Congress is working with President Joe Biden on changes in health care and other areas unseen since the days of President Lyndon Johnson.

“Right now is not the time to count pennies,” Becerra said. “It’s not a time to not provide people with the care they need because that pandemic will spread as we’re seeing with the delta variant as quickly as you can say get out.”

Their roundtable discussion was held at the Eric B. Chandler Health Center, an FQHC affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Dr. Eric Jahn said the center would surely benefit from capital funding from Congress.

“Chandler has no lack of need, no lack of vision. But we do lack space,” said Jahn, senior associate dean for community health at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Chandler's former medical director.

New Jersey 101.5 FM logo
Get our free mobile app

Becerra also joined Pallone at a rally in support of legislation the congressman has proposed that would empower the federal government to lower consumer spending for prescription drugs by negotiating their cost with drugmakers.

“We know there is a need and demand for affordable care,” Becerra said. “Life-saving drugs shouldn’t eat up a person’s life savings.”

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at

READ MORE: What's in the infrastructure package for New Jersey?

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure package approved by the Senate would provide New Jersey around $12.4 billion in guaranteed spending, with some categories of spending to be allocated later and opportunities to seek billions more in funding through a variety of programs.

Point Pleasant Beach NJ: 11 most popular spots

The oceanside location of Point Pleasant Beach has been a source of enjoyment for centuries.

The first permanent boardwalk was built in 1915 and in the late 1920’s, Orlo Jenkinson built Jenkinson’s Pavilion and Swimming Pool. 

Over the past 100 years or so, the community has grown into a vibrant resort destination for state residents and tourists, alike.

Parkway stops getting renamed after these NJ greats

Some of New Jersey's most iconic figures are getting their names on something other than awards or gold records: Garden State Parkway rest stops.

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM