HHS Invests $15 Million in Nurse-Managed Health Clinics, but More is Needed

Jul 14, 2010

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced new federal investments in community-based practices led by nurse practitioners.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced new federal investments in community-based practices led by nurse practitioners. Made possible by the Affordable Care Act, this new funding initiative will invest $15 million in nurse-managed health clinics, but is that enough?

Nurse-managed health clinics are provide primary care, health promotion, and disease prevention services to patients who are least likely to receive ongoing health care. This population includes people of all ages who are uninsured, underinsured, living in poverty, or members of racial and ethnic minority groups. They are led by nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses.

“If congress appropriates the $50 million it has authorized for nurse-managed clinics, it will go a long way to provide operating support to the 250 clinics that are in operation,” says Tine Hansen-Turton, MGA, JD, CEO of the National Nursing Centers Consortium (NNCC). “We're excited about the $15 million, but believe it is important for congress to appropriate the necessary funds to assure sustainability of the nurse-managed clinics.”

Hansen-Turton saus HHS is a significant funding stream, but it’s not easy to get funded by HHS. Other funding streams include local community foundations and national foundations.  

“Clinics may also have contracts for services from local and county governments,” she says. “About 40% (of the population served by nurse-managed clinics) are uninsured - so to serve that population the clinics seek grants from local government and foundations.  About 40% are on Medicaid, so most of the clinics are reimbursed for the care through Medicaid managed care insurance plans. However, the funding is so limited that it only covers about 20% of the cost of care, so care has to be subsidized, again, often from grants.”

In addition to providing care to patients, nurse-managed health clinics also play a role in education. More than 85 of the nation’s nursing schools operate nurse-managed health clinics that serve as clinical education and practice sites for nursing students and faculty. Many also have partnerships with other academic programs and provide learning opportunities for medical, pharmacy, social work, public health, and other students.

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