Federal Government Sets Aside Funds to Boost Access to Primary Care

Jul 21, 2014, 9:00 AM

The federal government announced on July 7 it had awarded more than $83 million to expand access to care by training hundreds of new primary care providers.

The money will be used to support primary care residency programs in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, geriatrics, and general dentistry at 60 health centers across the country. The expanded residency programs will help train more than 550 residents in coming academic year—about 200 more than were trained in the previous academic year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The funds will also be used to boost the number of states with teaching health centers from 21 to 24.

“This program not only provides training to primary care medical and dental residents, but also galvanizes communities,” said Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RN, head of the Health Resources and Services Administration, a division of HHS. “It brings hospitals, academic centers, health centers, and community organizations together to provide top-notch medical education and services in areas of the country that need them most.”

Also this month, HHS announced the availability of up to $100 million in funding to support community health centers, which provide care to patients regardless of their ability to pay.

Authorized by the Affordable Care Act, the money will be used to support about 150 new health center sites across the country in 2015. Today, nearly 1,300 community health centers provide care to more than 21 million patients across the nation.

The $100 million comes on top of $300 million that was announced in June to support existing community health centers. That funding is intended to allow community health centers to expand service hours, hire more medical providers, and add services in areas including oral and behavioral health, pharmacy, and vision.

“In communities across the country, Americans turn to their local community health center for vital health care services that help them lead healthy, productive lives,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, AB, BA, said in a statement. “That’s why it’s so important that the Affordable Care Act is supporting the expansion of health centers.”

Learn more here and here.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.