Community health centers on the rise: HHS to fund 266 new sites

The Department of Health and Human Services will fund 266 new primary care community health center sites in high-need areas nationwide to the tune of $169 million.

The new sites, infused with Affordable Care Act (ACA) funds, will increase care access for more than 1.2 million patients, according to HHS, building on $101 million the department gave to the program in May. More than 700 new health center sites have opened, including the recipients of the May award, since the ACA was passed. The program currently supports 9,000 sites for 1,300 community-based, patient-directed health centers, providing care to more than 20 million people.

"Across the country, health centers have provided a source of high-quality primary care for people in rural and urban communities for 50 years," said Acting Deputy Secretary Mary Wakefield in the announcement. "These Affordable Care Act funds build on the strong legacy of the health center program and provide even more individuals and families with access to the care they need the most."

The role of community health centers has undergone a rapid evolution as more and more Americans rely on their services. Once considered "poor people's clinics," they now serve a far more varied patient base, particularly in states that did not expand their Medicaid programs under the ACA. A large percentage of these clinics' patients remain uninsured, but the cash infusions from HHS have helped to offset the cost of charity care. The HHS awards "will enable more individuals and families to have access to the affordable, quality healthcare that health centers provide," HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in May. "That includes the preventive and primary care services that will keep them healthy."

To learn more:
- here's the announcement