More than 10,000 primary care providers-- largest number in history supported by Obama Administration investments
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced that the number of participants in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) has nearly tripled. Today, more than 10,000 National Corps members – doctors, nurses and other health care providers – care for Americans in communities nationwide. Thanks to investments in the National Health Service Corps through the Affordable Care Act, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and annual appropriations, the NHSC has awarded nearly $900 million in scholarships and loan repayment to health care professionals to help expand the country’s primary care workforce and meet the health care needs of communities across the country.
Thanks to the these critical investments in our nation’s health care workforce, there are nearly three times the number of NHSC clinicians working in communities across America than there were three years ago--increasing access to health care and supporting local jobs. In 2008, approximately 3.7 million patients were provided service by 3,600 National Health Service Corps providers. Now in 2011, with field strength of more than 10,000 clinicians, the National Health Service Corps provides health care services to about 10.5 million patients.
“Thanks to the National Health Service Corps, more Americans can see a doctor and get the health care they need,” said HHS Secretary Sebelius. “The investments we made are improving health and creating access to care, fueling economic activity nationwide.”
Established in 1972, the National Health Service Corps, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has provided health care to communities across the country through the service of more than 41,000 primary health care practitioners over its nearly 40-year history. The NHSC provides financial, professional and educational resources to medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health care providers who bring their skills to areas of the United States with limited access to health care.
“Eighty-two percent of NHSC clinicians continue to serve in high-need areas after they fulfill their service commitment,” said HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D, R.N. “These awards help ensure that underserved communities across the country have access to quality health care both today and in the future.”
There are currently more than 10,000 National Health Service Corps members and over 17,000 NHSC-approved rural and urban sites across the country from Aberdeen, Washington and McClusky, North Dakota to Akron, Ohio and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
These competitive awards were made through the following programs:
For more information about the Department’s Recovery Act programs, see http:/www.hhs.gov/recovery.
Here is an article found in the Washington Post. Let's hope this trend is reversed and for those of us that were involved in preparing NAP grants, only to have them drastically cut back, it was very frustrating time for both us and the facilities that we were working with.....
By Phil Galewitz, Published: October 6
But in August, most were rejected, leaving advocates frustrated that they would not be able to serve the growing numbers of uninsured and poor people or be ready for an influx of patients under the health law.
The funding cut was a result of a federal budget compromise in March to keep the government running. That agreement reduced federal spending by nearly $80 billion, including a $600 million trim in funding for ongoing operations at existing health centers.
To make sure existing centers did not have to reduce services, the Obama administration diverted some of the $11 billion set aside in the health overhaul law for health-center expansion initiatives and instead used it to keep the centers operating at current levels.
But a casualty of this strategy was that some of the health-center expansion plans were either eliminated or drastically cut back.
In addition, to free up money to help with existing operations, the administration scrapped plans to distribute $335 million to health centers to boost medical, dental, pharmacy and vision services.
Advocates are concerned that Congress could again target operating funds and say the funding delay will slow efforts to build capacity by 2014, when the health law begins expanding coverage to 32 million uninsured people. “Now the whole process has been set back,” said Dan Hawkins, senior vice president at the National Association of Community Health Centers.
The situation highlights the trickle-down effect of Washington’s deficit cutting on local communities. Those efforts are being revved up this fall as the congressional “super committee” looks for ways to cut the federal budget by more than $1.2 trillion in the next decade.
At the local level, the lack of funding means:
●A dental exam room at FoundCare Health Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., will remain unused four days a week because there’s no money to hire a dentist.
● Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine in Greensboro, N.C., might face a repeat of last winter when more than 700 adult patients were put on a months-long waiting list for care, and the center had to stop taking new pediatric patients because of a lack of doctors.
● Heartland Community Health Center in Lawrence, Kan., will have to continue to tell patients they must wait at least two months for an appointment.
“When the money first became available, a lot of community organizations said, here’s a golden opportunity, let’s try to take advantage,” said Heartland chief executive Jon Stewart. “But like many others, we were shocked not to be awarded a grant.”
Health center officials are concerned the cuts in expansion funding could happen again as Congress moves to hold down federal spending and lower the federal deficit. Hawkins said many of the health centers that were turned down remain skeptical about the possibility of getting future dollars to expand.
The House Appropriations Committee released a draft 2012 appropriations bill Monday that would maintain existing services at the health centers but rescind $1.2 billion in expansion funding called for under the health law.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is also worried about the effect of scaling back expansion plans. “I believe (community health centers) provide an incredibly important service to patients in my state and across the country, and they need to be funded now if we expect them to provide a continuum of care when the health-care law is fully implemented in 2014,” he said.
The Health Resources and Services Administration, the federal agency that oversees community health centers, said future expansion plans remain tentative because of concerns that Congress might again cut annual funding for health centers.
Expanding funding for community health centers in the past decade has been one of the few health policy areas Republicans and Democrats agreed on. President George Bush’s administration doubled funding for community health centers, enabling the creation or expansion of 1,297 clinics.
Serving nearly 20 million people today, community health centers are often the main primary care safety net for the uninsured and people on Medicaid. Unlike private physician offices and urgent-care clinics, the centers accept patients regardless of their ability to pay.
The Obama administration says the centers will play a key role in making sure those who gain coverage from the law will have a place to get care.
That’s why the health law included the $11 billion for the centers to be spent by 2015, mostly to open new sites and expand services at existing locations.
It’s been nearly three years since FoundCare in West Palm Beach opened its doors in a county where nearly one in three people are uninsured. The facility won a $190,000 federal grant a year ago to equip its exam rooms.
But officials had hoped to get an expansion grant to hire another family physician and a dentist and to add optometry and behavioral health services. Right now less than half of the facility’s 16 exam rooms are used.
“We thought we did everything that could have been done,” said FoundCare chief executive Yolette Bonnet. “We can do so much more, but because of what’s going on with funding, we are not able to.”
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health-policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and America’s Community Health Centers are preparing to step up to the challenge of reaching out to America’s underserved, uninsured, and low-income communities, as well as those who have insurance. Community Health Centers provided 319,262 mammograms to 299,516 patients last year, according to data collected by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). Early detection is critical in surviving breast cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, there will be an estimated 230,480 new cases of breast cancer in 2011, resulting in 39,520 deaths. In 2010, the top five states with the most patients receiving breast cancer screenings at Community Health Centers are California, New York, Illinois, Florida, and Massachusetts. By providing affordable and accessible screenings, and launching education and outreach efforts to culturally diverse populations, health centers have been able to help boost the odds of early breast cancer detection and save lives.
Many breast cancer risk factors cannot be avoided, such as genes, gender, and age. However, some breast cancer risk factors can. To decrease your breast cancer risk, avoid tobacco use, consume alcohol only in moderation, eat healthy, and get regular exercise. Mammography is the best screening method for detecting breast cancer in its earliest forms, and can detect possible tumors years before a woman can feel an actual lump. It is recommended that women 40 years and older receive a screening mammogram every year.
For more information about health centers please visit www.nachc.org.
The House Appropriations Committee has released a draft Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill for FY2012. This legislation, were it to become law, provides funding to maintain current levels of federal grant support for all existing operations at Health Centers.
Significantly, the draft bill restores and increases the Health Centers program’s base discretionary funding level to $2.6 billion, a level that would maintain existing services at all health centers and improve the financial footing of the program going forward.
The draft legislation also rescinds $1.2 billion in expansion funding for health centers, precluding any future growth for the Health Centers program in FY2012. As a result, over 700 communities in need throughout the country remain on a wait list for a health center and an additional 1100 communities with existing health centers are unable to expand service capacity to meet increased demand.
“We appreciate the Chairman’s decision in this difficult fiscal climate to demonstrate clear support for existing health centers by restoring and maintaining base program funding. At the same time, we remain concerned with unmet need for health center services that will persist with the elimination of expansion funding for the program,” said Tom Van Coverden, President and CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). “Accordingly, we look forward to working with the House and with the Senate to reconcile their respective bills as the appropriations process continues, to assure that the program’s base funding is restored and that some level of expansion funding is included in the final package.”
September 28th, 2011 ·In the past week HRSA has added a new grant opportunity for rural health programs. The Rural Health Care Services Outreach Grant Program (HRSA-12-083) will award $12M in funds to 80 organizations to support projects demonstrating effective outreach, service delivery,demonstration of health outcomes, replicability and sustainability. Awards will span three years and average $150,000 per year. Applications are due November 22. Access the grant homepage here.
This new grant is in addition to another open funding opportunity for rural health care due October 31. The Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant Program (HRSA-12-084) will provide $1.15M to 15 organizations to facilitate the planning and implementation needed to successfully develop integrated healthcare networks. These single year grants help programs plan and become operational. Read more about this opportunity here.
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