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11/22/2010
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HHS Awards $8 Million For Community Health Centers

Government funding through the Affordable Care Act will support IT implementation and training at local medical clinics.

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The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Friday that it has awarded nearly $8 million for existing Community Health Center Cooperative Agreements. Part of the funding will go toward providing training and technical assistance for health IT implementation at local organizations that support community health centers.

These cooperative agreements, which support the development and operation of health centers, are funded from grants made under the Affordable Care Act. Cooperative agreement organizations will use training and technical assistance funds to support the following core functions: community development, expansion planning, patient-centered medical home development, meaningful use health IT adoption, and workforce development at community health centers across the country.

"These Health Center Cooperative Agreements help build on the Affordable Care Act's investments in community health centers," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, said in a statement. "These funds will provide assistance to community health centers to help them improve access to healthcare services, especially for those who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable."

The National Association of Community Health Centers will receive the largest grant, totaling $1.4 million. Other recipients are the California Primary Care Association, which will receive $270,195; the National Center for Farmworker Health, which will receive $227,454; and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, which was awarded $223.687. According to HHS, community health centers serve nearly 19 million patients, about 40% of whom have no health insurance. These centers deliver preventive and primary care services at more than 7,900 service delivery sites around the country to patients, regardless of their ability to pay. Charges for services are set according to income.

"The funding the secretary announced today will ensure that health centers who need it have the ability to plan for their futures," HRSA administrator Mary K. Wakefield, said in a statement. "Community health centers provide high-quality healthcare to anyone who needs it, these funds make continuing that care possible."

Projections are that over the next five years, the Affordable Care Act will provide $11 billion in funding for the operation, expansion, and construction of community health centers across the country. Of the $11 billion, $9.5 billion is targeted to creating new health center sites in medically underserved areas and expanding preventive and primary healthcare services, including oral health, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, and enabling services at existing health center sites.

An additional $1.5 billion will support major construction and renovation projects at health centers nationwide.

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