Sebelius announces Colorado community health grants totaling $3 million

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced grants her agency would be awarding around the nation to expand community health centers. Colorado centers won $2,955,833.

“The health care law is making our community health centers stronger and ensuring more Americans get the care they need,” said Sebelius in a press release.

The awards announced today total $128.6 million and will go to centers in 41 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.

In a phone call with reporters, Sebelius said these grants “will help Americans access the care and services they need to live healthy lives.”

She said the grants announced today come from a pot of $11.5 billion made available over a five-year period through the Affordable Care Act.

“Improving access and quality in community health centers is one of the very real ways the Affordable Care Act is making a difference in the lives of Coloradans,” Sen. Mark Udall said in a prepared statement. “I want to congratulate these health centers, which already do excellent work making health care affordable and accessible in their communities. These grants also will help create jobs for doctors, nurses, physicians assistants and others who work to improve community health for Coloradans.”

Sebelius said the 8500 community health centers in the United States often serve people who have nowhere else to go for health care, either because of where they live or because they lack the resources to seek private care.

“This administration has made expanding community health centers a top priority,” Sebelius said, adding that since 2009, grants like these have enabled community health care clinics to serve 3.1 million new people and that the centers have seen employment grow by 22 percent.

She said there are still “too many communities” where people cannot get the critical care they need simply because their communities lack facilities. Expanding community health centers, she said, keeps people out of emergency rooms, which she said lowers overall health care costs for everyone.

Sebelius said children who have access to health care also do better in school.

The grants announced today will fund 5,640 jobs for doctors, nurses, dental providers, and many other staff supporting services to more than 1.25 million new patients nationwide, according to the agency.

In a release, the agency reported that, since 2009, health centers have added more than 25,300 new full-time positions. “The awards announced today will infuse critical dollars into health centers and their surrounding communities, enhancing health centers’ ability to serve more patients and creating thousands of jobs across the country.”

In Colorado, awards went to the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Aurora, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association in Craig, the Metro Community Provider Network in Englewood, the Plains Medical Center in Limon and the Olathe Community Clinic in Olathe. Individual grants ranged from $439,167 to $650,000.

This is the second time in two months that Sebelius has announced grants for Colorado health care.

(Images of Kathleen Sebelius: The Florida Independent)