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Wednesday
Nov062013

Obamacare to Fund 236 New Community Health Centers

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Health and Human Services has announced $150 million in grants to support 236 new community health centers, located in most of the 50 states. In a conference call Wednesday afternoon administration officials said the money is for healthcare services aimed at locales with chronically low insurance coverage. But the centers can also assist those looking to enroll through the healthcare insurance marketplace.
 
Dr. Mary Wakefield, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, said on the call the grants may be used on physician salaries, leases, equipment costs, rent and other items. A caveat is that it cannot be used to physically build new brick-and-mortar establishments.
 
“The investments that we're making now, just that we're announcing tomorrow, are just in healthcare services. And so this allows health centers to hire physicians, nurse practitioners, medical assistants in order to expand their ability or capacity to provide more services to new patients,” she said. “They can be used for new centers or new sites for existing ones, but not for construction.”
 
The White House says worker salaries alone can take up to 70 percent of centers’ funding.
 
"This is the largest number of new access points that we've invested in or announced at any point in time since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, so this is a very significant investment in expanding out that infrastructure," said Wakefield.
 
Payment for the grants comes from $11 billion previously allocated in the ACA for expansion of community healthcare centers.
 
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio