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Monday, August 16, 2010

Community health centers get much needed funding

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

Earlier this week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of $250 million in grants to fund the creation of community health centers, which deliver primary health care services to many of the underserved and vulnerable populations of our country. The grants are part of the larger $9.5 billion health center funding created by the Affordable Care Act and will be used to create 350 new community health centers in 2011.

Expanding the number of community health centers will not only provide quality health care to vulnerable populations, but it will also help drive the economy of the communities where the health center is located. Community health centers stimulate business both inside and outside their walls by helping to keep local small businesses, like pharmacies, and medical and dental supply companies in the community. Community health centers also hold down other high health care costs, like hospital-based care, by keeping people out of the emergency room and avoiding unnecessary hospitalization.

Ellen-Marie Whelan, Associate Director of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress (CAP), recently released a report that touts the economic benefits of health centers. According to Whelan, community health centers “are an anchor in communities that have too little in the way of economic development[.]” The report shows that new funding will generate $53.7 billion in economic activity and 457,289 jobs for some of the most underserved neighborhoods in the country over the next five years. CAP also created an interactive map, which shows how each state will benefit from the growth in community health centers.

Community health centers are already meeting the demands of many of our nation’s most disadvantaged populations, but the demand is increasing and will only continue to increase with the influx of 32 million more insured people come 2014. This new funding will not only bring a much needed boost to many existing health centers struggling to meet the needs of their community, but it will create 350 more health centers as well as bring an economic stimulus to communities which have been especially hurt by the struggling economy. I say that’s a win-win for everyone involved.

 

For more information on community health centers and how they benefits neighborhoods across America, please visit here