HHS to offer $300 million to community health centers

June 5, 2014

Funding will help expand service hours, hire more medical providers and add oral health, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision services

HHS has announced the availability of up to $300 million under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to help community health centers across the country expand service hours, hire more medical providers and add oral health, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision services.

The announcement follows the awarding of $150 million to community health centers by HHS last November.

“Community health centers play a vital role in the implementation of the ACA, so it is not surprising that HHS continues to invest to ensure their success,” says John Santilli, of Access Market Intelligence, which provides market intelligence to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

“Community health centers are often considered ‘safety net providers’ because they serve inner-city and rural areas that typically don't have access to large hospitals or doctors' offices,” Santilli continues. “Community health centers have experience in treating people in those communities, so they are a natural source of care for the newly insured.”

 

Impact on drug industry

The increase in access and usage of community health centers may adversely affect the pharmaceutical industry as these physicians typically prescribe from a limited number of prescription drugs that are listed on highly-restricted formularies, according to Santilli.

“This will lead to an increase of ‘less-expensive’ prescriptions and a decrease of the industry’s newer, more expensive brand name drugs,” he says.

According to an HHS press release, nearly 1,300 health centers operate more than 9,000 service delivery sites that provide care to more than 21 million patients in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Pacific Basin. The health center program is administered by HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Health center grantees requesting expanded services funds must show how these funds will be used to expand primary care medical capacity and services to underserved populations in their communities.

 

Related links:

For information on the funding opportunity: 
http://www.hrsa.gov/grants/apply/assistance/es/esinstructions.pdf.

For information about the ACA and community health centers:

http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/healthcenterfactsheet.pdf.

For more about HRSA’s Community Health Center Program:

http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/index.html.