More than $25.7 million in grants will be distributed to improve health and support services at health centers nationwide, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced this week during the National Association of Community Health Centers' annual meeting in Chicago.
"These grants could not be coming at a better time," Sebelius told more than 2,000 meeting attendees. With more than 14.5 million Americans out of work and 47 million without health insurance, "the health centers are seeing more patients now than ever before."
The health center system, with is overseen by the HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), served more than 17 million medically underserved people in 2008--up from 10 million patients just eight years ago. Since the recession began, the population of patients using the centers has jumped by another one million people--a third of them children, according to HRSA.
The centers are to receive 180 grants worth more than $21.9 million, which will add or increase mental health/substance abuse programs, oral health or pharmacy services, or "enabling" services, such as outreach, transportation, and case management services.
Also, 48 planning grants totaling more than $3.8 million are to be distributed to organizations in underserved areas that do not have health centers as a way to help them develop new service delivery sites. These new health center sites will be required to meet federal requirements for governance, community involvement, quality of care, and financial feasibility.