Health Care Centers Get Needed Booster Shot

A valuable gateway to health care for the disadvantaged receives millions in new funding dollars. 

Posted: 05/02/2012 04:36 PM EDT

When people in many of our communities get sick, community health centers are the go-to resource. But as the Supreme Court considers the fate of the Affordable Health Care Act, these valuable gateways to care face an uncertain future.


But the Department of Health and Human Services is undaunted, announcing $728 million in grants to help community health centers to support 398 renovation and construction projects in addition to the 200 projects already completed. Also, nearly a million more patients will potentially be served once the expansion is finished.


The Obama administration made the announcement during a conference call to reporters. Mary Wakefield, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, suggested that the funds are needed to expand the capacity.


"The grants will allow community centers to have a more modern space, improve care and delivery of service to all Americans no matter where they live or what kind of insurance they may or may not have,” Wakefield said.


A new report also was released detailing ways that the health care law has worked to strengthen community health care centers. According to the report, it has already paved the way for 67 new health centers to be built, increased employment at centers by 15 percent and served nearly three million additional patients.


What happens if the president’s prized health care bill is overturned?


“We won’t speculate on what the Supreme Court decides," said Cecilia Muñoz, director, White House Domestic Policy Council. "We will move forward with implementing this law.”


Supporters of the law assert that if the new centers aren’t built an additional 6,000 jobs will be lost, and 1.3 million new patients will have to take a loss, Muñoz said.


“The Affordable Health Care Act gives people a degree of security. Without the benefit of this law, people will simply have to go elsewhere to receive care,” she says.


New grants totaling $150 million are expected to be awarded in June. That funding will be used to build new health centers in communities where they are needed.


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(Photo:  Matt McClain for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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