US Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today marked the first 100 Days of the Recovery Act and discussed the Act’s critical support for community health centers. Secretary Sebelius was joined by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RN and leaders from community health centers across the country.

Secretary Sebelius also announced the release of $81.7 million to expand services offered at the nation’s health centers.  The grants are funded through the Health Center Program, which helped more than 17 million individuals last year by providing access to high quality,
family-oriented, comprehensive primary and preventive health care. HRSA, an agency within HHS, oversees the Health Center Program, a major component of America’s health care safety net. In a typical year, about 40 percent of health center patients have no insurance coverage.

"The economic downturn is hurting all of us and when workers lose their jobs, they often lose their health insurance, too," said Secretary
Sebelius. "Community health centers provide essential care for families across the country that do not have insurance or cannot afford the high cost of care. The Recovery Act grants and the funding we have released are key investments that will help deliver care to millions of

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides $2 billion for grants to health centers over a 2-year period.  $500 million will be used to support new health center sites and service areas, increase services at existing sites, and address spikes in uninsured populations. The additional $1.5 billion will be used to support construction, renovation and equipment, including health information technology systems, in health centers and health center controlled networks.

HHS has already awarded approximately $155 million in Recovery Act grant funds to support 126 community health center sites across the country. The 126 New Access Point (NAP) grants were awarded to applicants that were approved but unfunded in 2008.  These grants will provide access to health center care for 750,000 people in 39 states and two territories.

HHS has also awarded $338 Million in Increased Demand for Services grants for health centers. Health centers will use these funds provide care to more than 2 million additional patients over the next two years, including approximately 1 million uninsured people. In addition, over the next two years, health centers will use the funds to create and retain approximately 6,500 health center jobs.

Source: HHS