New Grants Awarded for Community Health Centers, 5,600 New Jobs to be Created

Announced last week, $128.6 million in grants were awarded to 219 communities in 41 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands to expand community health centers.  Such health centers provide access to quality primary health care services particularly to underserved and low-income communities.  Twenty million patients are currently served by community health centers, and with the grants, 1.25 million more will be served. 

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the grants from Covenant Community Care in Detroit on June 20th. Covenant was awarded $868,750 to build another center, and in total, three centers will be expanded in Detroit with the federal funds.  According to Covenant, more than 50,000 Detroit residents receive care from Detroit’s community health centers whether or not they have health insurance coverage.  Applicants for grants were public and nonprofit private entities, including tribal, faith-based, and community-based organizations meeting the health center funding requirements.  

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) website, health centers serve patients with limited access to care and are community-based and patient-directed organizations.  Certain requirements must exist; the health center must (1) be located in, or serve, a high need community; (2) be governed by a community board; (3) provide comprehensive primary health care services and supportive services to promote access to care; (4) provide services available to all with a sliding fee scale based on the patient’s ability to pay; and (5) meet other performance and accountability requirements.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (P.L. 111-148) expanded community health centers, part of the law’s commitment to ensure access for all Americans to high quality health care.  The funds will help to establish additional full-time services delivery sites. Community health centers are seen as well-positioned to respond to a community’s specific health care needs.

The added benefit of these grants is the new jobs they will create.  Approximately 5,640 jobs will be created, namely for doctors, nurses, dental provides, and staff supporting services. Around 25,300 full-time positions were added since 2009, and, during 2011, 138,000 people were employed by health centers, including 9,900 physicians; 6,900 nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, and certified nurse midwives; 11,800 nurses; 10,300 dental staff; 4,400 behavioral health staff; and over 12,500 case managers, health education, outreach and transportation staff.

For a full list of grantees, see http://www.hrsa.gov/about/news/2012tables/120620nap.html.