WASHINGTON Oct 8 The Obama administration on
Friday announced $727 million will go to help fix up community
health centers across the country, the first of $11 billion for
the centers promised by the U.S. healthcare reform law.
The money will go to 143 community health centers -- which
provide services regardless of patients' ability to pay -- in
about 40 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, the Health
and Human Services department said.
Healthcare reforms signed into law by President Barack
Obama in March call for $11 billion in funding over the next
five years for the centers, which HHS said currently serve
nearly 19 million patients, about 40 percent of whom are
Expanding the centers will allow nearly twice as many
patients to get care at them, it said.
"Many of these community health centers need more modern
space to meet the increasing patient demand for services," Mary
Wakefield, who heads HHS' Health Resources and Services
Administration, said in a statement.
HHS said the centers "deliver preventive and primary care
services at more than 7,900 service delivery sites around the
country to patients regardless of their ability to pay; charges
for services are set according to income."
Under the healthcare law, about 32 million Americans who do
not have health insurance eventually are expected to be
covered. But several reports predict these newly insured
patients will swamp already overwhelmed primary care doctors,
specialists and clinics.
On Tuesday the U.S. Institute of Medicine recommended
educating and empowering nurses to step in and take on some of
the demand, as well. [ID:nN05205412]
(Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Vicki Allen)