HHS awards $107M to support quality improvement in 1,200-plus health centers

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The Department of Health and Human Services is providing $107 million to health centers to promote quality improvement. (AmerisourceBergen)

Federal health centers across the country will receive nearly $107 million to support quality improvement efforts.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the quality improvement awards Tuesday to 1,273 federally funded health centers in nearly all of the U.S. states and territories as well as the District of Columbia.

The funding, which comes through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is aimed at improving the quality, efficiency and value of the healthcare provided at federal health centers, HHS said.

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“HRSA-funded health centers continue to lead the U.S. healthcare system in providing quality, value-based care to their communities,” said Tom Engels, the agency’s acting director, in an announcement.

The awards recognize nearly all HRSA-funded health centers, he said, including the highest-performing health centers as well as those that have made significant quality improvement gains from the previous year.

Community health centers have consistently delivered high-quality primary care at a significantly lower cost and above-average results in controlling chronic conditions, said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

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“This week’s awards recognize especially high-achieving health centers. America’s health centers are essential to producing results on our actionable public health challenges, like HIV/AIDS and the opioid crisis, as well as to building a healthcare system that delivers better value and puts the patient at the center,” he said.

HRSA-funded health centers have played a role in combating the nation’s opioid crisis. In 2018, health centers screened nearly 1.1 million people for substance use disorder and provided medication-assisted treatment to nearly 95,000 patients nationwide, according to HHS.

HRSA-funded health centers are also playing an important role in the White House’s initiative to end the HIV epidemic, with efforts to detect, diagnose, prevent and treat HIV. In 2018 alone, health centers provided over 2.4 million HIV tests to more than 2 million patients. Nationwide, health centers provide care to 1 in 6 patients diagnosed with HIV.

At his State of the Union address in February, President Donald Trump announced a new public health initiative aimed at ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S. within 10 years.

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The quality improvement awards designate health centers that ranked in the top 1% to 2% in one or more key areas—behavioral health, diabetes prevention and management, and heart health—as National Quality Leaders. The top 30% of health centers that achieve the best overall clinical performance receive designation as Health Center Quality Leaders.

The awards also recognize health center achievements in improving cost-efficient care delivery while also increasing quality of care, reducing health disparities, increasing both the number of patients served and patients’ ability to access comprehensive services, advancing the use of health information technology and delivering patient-centered care.

There are almost 1,400 health centers that operate about 12,000 sites that provide care to more than 28 million patients.

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