The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced it is awarding $28.8 million to 67 community health center programs across the country. Two independent community health centers in Florida were included in the award list.
Collier Health Services in Immokalee was awarded $433,333. Bond Community Health Assoc. in Tallahassee was awarded $432,083.
Unlike community health centers in Osceola County, which were also awarded federal funds, the Collier and Bond centers do not need approval from the state Legislature to receive the funds.
The federal funds awarded to both Osceola and these two independent centers are allocated through the Affordable Care Act. Florida legislators have maintained a (somewhat inconsistent) policy of striking down money from the Affordable Care Act because the state is litigation with the federal government over the constitutionality of the law.
A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health explains that the department “has no role in the dissemination of the grants won by independent entities in the state such as Collier Health Services and Bond Community Health Association. Therefore, these entities do not need to seek legislative spending authority through DOH.”
As community-based and patient-directed organizations, health centers are well positioned to be responsive to the specific health care needs of their community. These grants will support new access points which are new full-time service delivery sites that provide comprehensive primary and preventive health care services. By maximizing the availability, access, and continuity of primary care services to the nation’s neediest populations, these sites will play a critical role in improving the health care status of medically underserved and vulnerable populations and decreasing health disparities throughout the United States.
“We are making an investment in the health of people and the health of our communities,” said Secretary Sebelius. “These awards demonstrate a commitment to improving and expanding access to quality health care for local communities. We are removing barriers that stand in the way of affordable and accessible primary health services.”
Florida currently has the second highest uninsured rate in the country.