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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

HHS Awards $150 Million to Create New Community Health Centers across the Country

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced $150 million in awards to support 236 new community health center sites across the country. These new centers will provide much needed health care to approximately 1.25 million Americans. This investment was made possible by the Community Health Center Fund, which was established by the Affordable Care Act. It will provide $11 billion over a five-year period for the operation, expansion, and construction of health centers across the country.

For more than 45 years, community health centers have provided high-quality preventive and primary care to millions of Americans. Many of these patients come from historically underserved and vulnerable populations. For many, community health centers are the only place to get affordable health care, making these centers a vital part of communities.

This network of health centers has created one of the largest safety net systems of primary and preventive care in the country. In 2012 alone, health centers treated more than 21 million people. Of those, 62 percent were members of a racial or ethnic minority group, 36 percent had no health insurance, and 32 percent were children. Over the years, health centers have provided high-quality care that continues to improve health outcomes, despite serving a population that is often sicker and more at risk than the general population.

The Affordable Care Act’s investment in health centers has not only allowed them to continue providing health care that is culturally competent and accessible to consumers with limited English proficiency, but it has also allowed health centers to expand their outreach to uninsured patients, which will be instrumental to the success of the Affordable Care Act.

As we wrote previously, grants made available through the Community Health Center Fund have allowed 1,159 health centers across the nation to expand their outreach and enrollment programs in communities that need it most. Because community health centers have long-standing trusted relationships with the communities they serve, they are ideally suited to providing outreach and enrollment assistance. In addition, health centers will be able to help patients maintain their health coverage—an important component in improving health outcomes, especially in at-risk populations.

These new funds will allow community health centers to continue providing high-quality, affordable health care to families who otherwise would have little or no access to care. This is just one of the many ways the Affordable Care Act is improving the lives of millions of Americans across the country.