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PRESS PHOTO BY APRIL PETERSON Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley receives more than $73,000 in grant funds to help the uninsured enroll in health coverage. The health center is located at 218 N. Second St., Allentown. PRESS PHOTO BY APRIL PETERSON Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley receives more than $73,000 in grant funds to help the uninsured enroll in health coverage. The health center is located at 218 N. Second St., Allentown.

Affordable Care Act

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 by APRIL PETERSON apeterson@tnonline.com in Local News

Grants released for health center outreach efforts

Selected health centers across the country received grant money totaling $150 million July 10 to help the uninsured enroll in health coverage options under the Affordable Care Act.

All grant recipients received a minimum of $59,000.

Funds were to be released immediately, Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., administrator of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, said in a conference call July 10 with members of the news media.

Health centers in all 50 states received funds, including Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley/Vida Nueva, 218 N. Second St., Allentown. The center received $73, 674, according to data provided on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources website.

By federal estimates, health centers serve more than 21 million people each year, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said.

Funds awarded July 10 were expected to help with outreach programs, preparing bilingual education materials, increasing technological capacity and hiring and training new staff to help with enrollment efforts, Sebelius said.

The goal of making the grants available to health centers was to reach those most in need of help. "We're getting information to people who need it the most," Wakefield said in the conference call.

There are 1,159 health centers nationwide. Through the funds released July 10, 3.7 million people are projected to get help, Sebelius said.

According to government literature, qualifying health centers meet five broad requirements. Such centers must be located in or serve a high need community, be governed by a community board made up of health center patients who represent the population served by the center, provide comprehensive primary health care services, provide services with fees adjusted based on a patient's ability to pay and meet other performance and accountability requirements.

Thirty-eight health centers in Pennsylvania received more than $4 million in funds through the program announced July 10, including awards to health centers in Reading, Wilkes Barre, Lancaster, Harrisburg, York, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Health centers receiving grants will make quarterly reports on who is helped by the outreach efforts, according to Sebelius.

Health centers provide primary care services, preventive care such as vaccines and care for chronic conditions such as diabetes. Many health center patients are uninsured and live below the poverty level. Some health centers also offer behavorial health and dental services. All qualifiying health centers are non-profit organizations and are located in rural, urban and major metropolitan areas

California received the greatest amount of funding at just shy of $22 million. Delaware health centers received three awards totaling close to $340,000. Health centers in Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands also received funds.