Thursday, May 3, 2012

Federal Grants Expand Healthcare to Thousands in PA

Public News Service-PA
(05/03/12) HARRISBURG, Pa. - Five Community Health Centers in Pennsylvania are getting nearly $7 million in federal grants to help build onto and renovate their facilities.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made the announcement in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Patricia Dietch, president and chief executive of Delaware Valley Community Health, says the money will help it carry on with its mission of offering health care to patients who may not get adequate care otherwise.

"The central core is to be able to provide that care to everyone regardless of their ability to pay."

The Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers says nearly 700,000 people statewide use the centers - and nearly seven out of 10 patients who do are on Medicaid or uninsured. About 250,000 people in the state live in counties without Community Health Centers, the association says.

Federal grants are one of three main sources of revenue that allow Community Health Centers to keep their doors open, Dietch says.

"If someone has health insurance, we bill for it. If they don't have health insurance, we all have sliding fee scales that charge you according to how much money you make and family size."

Tom Van Coverden, president and CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers, says another factor working in their favor is their largely bipartisan backing in Washington.

"I think policymakers on both sides realize even if you're fortunate enough to have an insurance card, you need a place to go - and if there's a medical home, a place that really is helping them to stay healthy, that there would be a long-range benefit in cost savings for everybody."

This funding, through the Affordable Care Act, is part of a plan to double the capacity of the Community Health Center system by 2015.

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