The funding is for so-called "health center look-alikes," providers that deliver primary care services to underserved communities and vulnerable populations but don't get health center grants from HHS. They can use it to slow the spread of the virus, strengthen vaccine efforts and improve healthcare services and related infrastructure. The new spending is part of the $7.6 billion that Congress gave HHS to help community health centers fight COVID-19 under the American Rescue Plan.
"The Biden Administration understands the urgency to get resources directly into communities hit hardest by the pandemic," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, needed aid is coming to vulnerable communities – to help them respond to the pandemic, to increase testing and vaccinations and to provide critical health services."
According to HHS, health center look-alikes deliver care to more than half a million patients. Nearly 9 in 10 of their patients live at or below 200% of the federal poverty line. Almost two-thirds of them are racial or ethnic minorities.