(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced today that the CHOICE Regional Network, a non-profit consortium dedicated to improving the health of 93,000 poor and working-poor Washington state residents, has received $175,000 in fourth-year grant funding under the Health Community Access Program (CAP). The money will help CHOICE in its efforts to continue and expand outreach and coordination efforts for the uninsured. Senator Murray has been an unyielding advocate for CAP generally and CHOICE specifically since the Bush Administration signaled its intent to cut the crucial program's funding to levels that would force its eventual shut down.

"I'm proud, excited, and relieved that we've been able to get this money for CHOICE," Murray said. "This program helps working families in Washington state get the health care they need, but cannot afford. Without this funding, thousands of Washington families would not know they qualify for care under this program, and would be left behind. This successful, bipartisan program works for people in my state, and I'm going to keep fighting to make sure that those most in need get the care they deserve.

In July of this year, Senator Murray (D-Wash) vigorously questioned Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson in a hearing on Capitol Hill. During a hearing before the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray challenged the Administration's decision to take $20 million from the program.

"It's time for the Administration to step up to the plate and become a real partner in the effort to treat the growing number of uninsured Americans," Murray told Secretary Thompson at the July hearing.

In 2003, Murray was successful in attaching funding that helped save CAP from the Administration's chopping block to the FY2003 Omnibus Appropriations bill, one of only a handful of Democratic amendments agreed to on the legislation.

The CHOICE network was selected as one of the three demonstration sites in Washington state to design a community-based model for financing and delivering health care to residents of Gray's Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties living below 250% of the poverty line. They are working to design a community-based, 100% Access Demonstration Project in the 5-county region that will increase access to affordable health care in the region, and sustain providers' ability to care for limited-income consumers.

"Senator Murray's heroic measures to ensure the ongoing funding of the CAP program have saved lives," said Kristen West, Executive Director, Choice Regional Health Network. "We have examples of real people who have lost their lives due to broken or failing health systems. Senator Murray's ability to successfully work both sides of the aisle has been truly amazing. Washington State is fortunate to have a Senator with proven experience and clout to make this happen," West said.