HHS Grants $727 Million To Community Health Centers

Filed in Health Reform by on October 11, 2010 4 Comments
Photo by ell brown via flickr

Photo by ell brown via flickr

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) continues to make headlines.  Recently the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $727 million for construction and renovation projects at 143 community health centers across the country.  HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted that

[t]here is no question that the economic downturn has made it harder for some Americans to get health care and important preventive services.  Community Health Centers provide quality healthcare services to Americans across the country but are a life line for those who have lost coverage or are between jobs.  These funds from the Affordable Care Act will help get more people care in some communities where there have not been many options in the past.  The newly constructed or expanded community health centers will provide care to an additional 745,000 patients and much needed employment opportunities in both rural and urban underserved communities.

According to the National Association of Community Health Centers, there are approximately 1,200 centers across the country.  They provide care for 20 million patients.  Seventy-one per cent of these patients have family incomes at or below the poverty line while 38% are uninsured and 36% are on Medicaid.

Over the next five years, PPACA will provide $11 billion in grants to fund the construction, operation, and expansion of community health centers.  These grants come at the right time as Mary K. Wakefield, Administrator of HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration, observes how

[m]any of these community health centers need more modern space to meet the increasing patient demand for services. These funds will help community health centers build new facilities and modernize their current sites in their continuing effort to provide the best care possible to more and more people in need.

The PPACA funding is in addition to the $2 billion allotted for health centers under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  ARRA provided health centers with $500 million to expand services to new patients and $1.5 billion to support facility construction and renovation as well as equipment acquisition.  (Click here to see a list of grantees receiving ARRA funding.)

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