Community health centers get new federal dollars

Jun 20, 2012

Three community health centers in Missouri are getting new funding from the federal government. The grants announced today aim to help expand care for the medically underserved.

The Community Health Center of Central Missouri in Moniteau County is getting $650,000. The grant is part of the Affordable Care Act, which originally set aside a total of $11 billion to increase the role of community health centers.

Jay Angoff is regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He was at the clinic in California, Missouri today to announce the funding.

"Community health centers are really some of the best things about our health care system. They serve people regardless of ability to pay. They don't turn anyone away."

He says more than 20 million Americans depend on the clinics like this one.

"Population of our country is about 300 million, so that's one out of 15, one out of 16 people get their care at community health centers."

The clinic here in California currently offers only dental care, but with the new grant it will expand to offer primary care as well. Mark Conover is the chief operations officer here. He says 70 percent of patients are underinsured – they have Medicaid or no insurance at all.

"Every community needs a health safety net provider, and they shouldn't have to drive 22 miles to Jefferson City to receive those services."

Darrell King was part of the steering committee that helped get this clinic off the ground. 

"One of the things we have is a high Hispanic population here – we have a Cargill turkey processing plant."

He says Moniteau County also has a large elderly population:

"And we don't have public transportation like they do in the cities. So they either had to impose upon their neighbor or their family."

Nationwide, 219 health centers were awarded grants to expand community health centers.