Today President Obama announced nearly $600 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) awards to support major construction and renovation projects at 85 community health centers nationwide and help networks of health centers adopt Electronic Health Records (EHR) and other Health Information Technology (HIT) systems. The awards are expected to not only create new job opportunities in construction and health care, but also help provide care for more than half a million additional patients in underserved communities. The President also announced a new demonstration initiative to support the delivery of advanced primary care to Medicare beneficiaries through community health centers.
"Together, these three initiatives -- funding for construction, technology and a medical home demonstration project -- won't just save more money, and create more jobs, they'll give more people the peace of mind of knowing that health care will be there for them and their families when they need it," said President Obama. "Ultimately, that's what health reform is really about."
"One of the first investments we made through the Recovery Act was in supporting our nation's community health centers -- and today we build on that progress by funding new construction and improvement projects at more than 80 facilities nationwide," said Vice President Biden. "This is what the Recovery Act is all about -- providing immediate assistance for hard-hit families, improving our nation's infrastructure and creating new opportunities for stable, well-paid work."
To qualify for funding, a health facility must be a Federally Qualified "Community" Health Center. Grants of $508.5 million will be provided through the Facility Investment Program (FIP) program to address pressing health center facility needs. Also, as much as $88 million will be available to help Health Center Controlled Networks improve operational effectiveness and clinical quality in health centers by providing management, financial, technology and clinical support services.
The new Recovery Act funds are the latest in a series of grants awarded to community health centers, which deliver preventive and primary care services at more than 7,500 service delivery sites around the country to patients regardless of their ability to pay. Health centers serve more than 17 million patients, about 40 percent of whom have no health insurance.
Both programs will be administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
President Obama directed the Department of Health and Human Services to implement a demonstration initiative designed to evaluate the impact of the advanced primary care practice model on access, quality and cost of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries served by community health centers.
This model, known as the "medical home," promotes accessible, continuous, and coordinated family-centered care. Developed and administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the demonstration will last three years. CMS anticipates that up to 500 health centers will participate.
"Because community health centers already provide comprehensive health care to people who face the greatest barriers to accessing care, these demonstration projects have the potential to support and improve the care delivered not only to Medicare beneficiaries, but also to others who rely on community health centers for primary care," said HHS Secretary Kathleen G. Sebelius.
HRSA has received a total of $2 billion through the Recovery Act to expand health care services to low-income and uninsured individuals through its health center program. To date, nearly $1.9 billion of these funds have been awarded to community-based organizations across the country.