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While Awaiting Court’s Decision, HHS Awards Health Center Grants

Even as attention is focused on the much-anticipated Supreme Court decision regarding the health law’s constitutionality, the Obama administration continues to roll out “good news” announcements related to provisions that have already taken effect.

Case in point: The Obama administration Wednesday announced $128.6 million in new grants designed to help community health centers across the country and in some U.S. territories expand their ability to treat patients. These grants follow a similar initiative announced early last month in which HHS parceled out $728 million to 398 other community health centers.

Photo by Jessica Marcy/KHN

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the funds announced Wednesday will go to 219 community health centers spanning 41 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. These funds will help provide “new sites, new services and longer hours,” Sebelius said.

The grants support community health centers’ efforts to provide care to more than 1.25 million new patients, as well as to create approximately 5,640 new jobs for doctors, nurses, dental providers and support staff, according to Sebelius.

In total, $11 billion has been allocated over the next five years to community health centers — with approximately $1.5 billion spent on construction and $2 billion spent on operational support to date.  The remaining $7.5 billion will fund ongoing health center activities, build new sites in medically underserved areas, and expand preventive and primary oral, behavioral, pharmacy and enabling health services at existing sites, said HHS spokesperson Richard Olague.