HHS announced Tuesday that it will be providing $100 million in federal grant funding to develop 150 new community health center
sites by 2015.
Funding for the expansion is being made available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
, according to the agency. Funds will be used to expand healthcare access to those living in medically underserved parts of the country.
Organizations eligible to receive up to $650,000 in funding through HHS' New Access Point grant
program include public and private not-for-profit groups as well as faith-based, tribal and community-based entities.
“Since last fall, health centers have provided enrollment assistance to more than 4.7 million people across the country,” said Mary Wakefield, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration
. “We are pleased that the Affordable Care Act is supporting the establishment of additional health center sites to provide expanded opportunities for the newly insured to receive care.”
According to HHS, the new sites that will be developed as a result of the funding bring the total number of health center facilities that have been created in the past three years to 700.
Currently, there are close to 1,300 community health centers across the country, with more than 9,000 delivery sites serving more than 21 million patients a year.
Considered a vital source of primary care for many of the country’s most vulnerable patients, community health centers that received federal funding are required to see patients regardless of their ability pay. About 36% of patients that visit CHCs are uninsured, with another 40% covered through either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers. About 72% of all health center patients are low-income, earning up to 100% of the federal poverty level.
“On behalf of Community Health Centers we are grateful for the availability of funds to expand primary care, and the continued support for the health center mission of serving people and communities that need quality, affordable healthcare,” Dan Hawkins, vice president for federal, state and public affairs for NACHC said in an e-mail response to HHS’ announcement. “The timing of this investment could not be more critical—there are 62 million Americans who today are struggling with little or no access to primary care.”Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHsjohnson