HHS Health Resources and Services Administration said today that it will grant $61 million for new health centers in high-poverty areas and $31.4 million to expand health information technology at health centers across the country. HRSA Administrator Elizabeth Duke made the announcement in Dallas at the National Association of Community Health Centers annual meeting, said Craig Kennedy, associate vice president of federal and state affairs for the association.
Of the high-poverty funds, 74 grants totaling $36.5 million will be used to create new health centers as part of President Bushs High Poverty County Initiative and will help about 300,000 residents in low-income areas gain access to healthcare services. Meanwhile, 25 grants worth nearly $2 million will be used to create plans to develop health centers in high-poverty counties; $20 million will be used to establish 41 new health center sites in 25 states in areas where more primary care is needed; and grants worth more than $1 million will be used to expand medical capacity at four existing centers in Arizona, Indiana and South Carolina.
This year, Texas did well, but they have an extremely larger underserved population, Kennedy said after the announcement was made. Its spread across the country in high-need areas. We have identified 56 million that need access to a health center, and this is a good step in the right direction. Kennedy said that the laborious application approval and ranking process has been completed, so communities should have access to the high-poverty grant funds very quickly.
Of the health IT funds, 25 grants totaling more than $27 million will support implementing electronic health records at health centers in networks that link multiple health center grant recipients. Also, eight grants totaling about $1 million will help health centers plan activities that will prepare them to adopt electronic EHRs or what HRSA called other HIT innovations. Finally, 13 grants worth more than $3 million will be used to help health center networks implement other health information programs other than EHRs. The health IT funds will be awarded beginning Sept. 1.
Created in 2005, HRSAs Office of Health Information Technology was established to develop an agencywide strategy that benefits safety net providers and responds to the needs of the uninsured, underserved and special-needs populations. -- by Jessica Zigmond