HHS supports community health centers with $728M boost

Nearly 400 community health centers will be getting a $728 million boost to build, renovate and improve operations, expected to serve 1.3 million patients, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced yesterday.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the government committed $9.5 billion to expand services over five years and $1.5 billion for construction and renovation projects, half of which was awarded in 2010, according to a White House report.

The $728 million awarded yesterday will allow the 398 community health centers to provide care to more patients and create jobs, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said yesterday. Of that funding, $629 million will go to 171 existing health centers for expanding facilities and services, and the other $99.3 million will go to 227 existing health centers for facility and equipment needs.

Sebelius also announced $10.4 million in grants to expand 70 rural health centers, funded by the Affordable Care Act, at a White House Rural Council meeting yesterday, AHA News Now reported.

The multi-million dollar injection and governmental support directly targets the chronically ill by offering preventive care.

"For many Americans, community health centers are the major source of care that ranges from prevention to treatment of chronic diseases," Sebelius said. "This investment will expand our ability to provide high-quality care to millions of people while supporting good paying jobs in communities across the country."

Since 2009, employment at community health centers nationwide has increased by 15 percent.

Last month, the Institute of Medicine issued a report, calling for integration of community health centers and primary care providers in the interest of public health.

For more information:
- see the HHS announcement
- check out the White House report (.pdf)
- here's the AHA News Now brief