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HHS Awards $295M to Health Centers

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The US Department of Health and Human Services is sending nearly $300 million to community health centers in an effort to boost access to comprehensive primary care.

The US Department of Health and Human Services is sending nearly $300 million to community health centers in an effort to boost access to comprehensive primary care.

The money is being distributed to all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the Pacific Basin. It’s expected to fund 4,750 new staff, as well as longer hours for existing staff and longer services. HHS said the funding will help 1.5 million patients nationwide.

“Health centers are a key part of how the Affordable Care Act is working to improve access to care for millions of Americans,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, in a press release. “These funds will enable health centers to provide high-quality primary healthcare to more people including the newly insured, many of whom may be accessing primary care for the first time.”

Health centers provide primary care services to a total of more than 21.7 million patients, according to HHS, about 4.5 million more than at the start of the Obama Administration.

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The $295 million is part of a 5-year $11 billion funding program included in the Affordable Care Act. Of that money, $9.5 billion will go to support ongoing health center operations, create new sites and expand services. The remaining $1.5 billion will fund major construction and renovation projects at the centers.

According to an HHS fact sheet, more than 10,700 physicians and more than 8,000 nurse practitioners, physician assistants and certified nurse midwives work at the health centers. Sixty-two percent of patients are members of ethnic and minority groups. Thirty-five percent had no health insurance.

The centers follow the “medical home” model, emphasizing coordinated primary and preventive services. HHS data show the centers manage to improve patient outcomes in their communities despite serving a patient population that tends to be sicker and more at risk.


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