Kathleen Sebelius , Secretary Health and Human Services has announced more than $25.7 million in grants to increase and improve health and support services at the nation’s health centers. Overseen by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) at HHS, the Health Center system served more than 17 million medically underserved people in 2008, up from 10 million patients served in 2001. Since the economic downturn began, the health center patient population has grown by another one million people – a third of them children. By law, patients are accepted regardless of their ability to pay.
A total of 180 grants worth more than $21.9 million will give existing health centers the funds to add or increase mental health/substance abuse, enabling, oral health or pharmacy services. Additionally, 48 planning grants totaling more than $3.8 million will be distributed to organizations in hard hit areas that do not have health centers to help them develop new service delivery sites. New health center sites must meet federal requirements for governance, community involvement, quality of care and financial feasibility. HRSA’s Health Center Program funds a national network of more than 1,100 community, migrant, homeless and public housing health center grantees. These organizations provide health care at more than 7,500 clinical sites, ranging from large medical facilities to mobile vans. In FY 2009, more than $2.1 billion was appropriated to support the Health Center Program.