As a recent extension of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration granted approximately $1.5 million to the Health Resources and Services Administration to be distributed to seven Missouri health centers.
Community health centers seek to provide care and treatment to their patients, similar to a primary care physician’s offices. The main difference between the two is that community and family health centers provide treatment to those who are either underinsured or entirely uninsured, as well as those whose incomes fall below a predetermined point, said Jennifer Janes, a spokeswoman for HealthCare.gov.
“The community health centers can be found in both rural and city locations and they deliver quality care based on people’s incomes,” Janes said. “If people are not able to acquire insurance, they can go there and get help.”
The mission of the health centers across Missouri, according to the Missouri Family Health Center website, is “to provide access to primary medical, dental and mental health services to community members, with emphasis on the medically underserved, to improve the health of the community and to train future health care providers.”
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, the state of Missouri has a total of 23 community health centers with 196 service delivery sites, which collectively served 438,406 patients in 2013. Of those patients, 35 percent were uninsured.
One such local health center, the Family Health Center of Boone County in Columbia, received $250,000.
“These funds will allow health centers to expand health services to better serve newly insured patients,” Health Resources and Services Administrator Mary Wakefield said in a press release.
The expanded services funds will aid in this increased access to health services through the implementation of additional service hours, medical providers and medical services, including primary health, oral, vision, behavioral and pharmaceutical services, according to the Affordable Care Act Health Center Expanded Services application for fiscal year 2014.
“Essentially, the funding is designed to improve quality of care through team-based coordination, so it’s trying to treat the many needs of a patient at once through a team effort,” said Adele Sink, Regional Outreach Specialist for the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.
The money will support 21 new construction projects and 126 health center renovation projects, Sink said.
“This funding will allow health centers to hire new employees and to renovate centers for more space for patients,” Sink said.
With the funds allocated to Missouri community health centers in 2013, centers were expected to hire an additional 59 workers, who would assist approximately 62,102 additional patients, as stated in the Missouri Health Center Outreach and Enrollment Assistance funding breakdown.
The Health Resources and Services Administration is set to award up to $300 million to qualified health centers across the nation in the current fiscal year.