Funding Mechanism: Grants
Number of Awards: 1131 grantees in 2009, operating over 7,900 service sites.
Average Award Amount per Year: Annual operational health center grants average approximately $1.5 million. New Start grantees may receive up to a maximum of $650,000.
Length of Project Period: Up to five years, based on grantee experience, organizational capability and performance.
Federal Partners: None.
Summary: HRSA’s Bureau of Primary Health Care administers the Health Center program, authorized by Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act. Under this program, HRSA provides grant funding to health centers that provide comprehensive, culturally competent quality primary health care services to medically underserved communities and vulnerable populations. These include low-income populations, the uninsured, those with limited English proficiency, farm workers, individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and those living in public housing. To be eligible for grant funding, health centers must meet a range of program requirements, including being community-based and patient-directed.
In 2009, HRSA-funded health centers cared for nearly 19 million people, including providing services at approximately 60 correctional facility sites. However, the health center program does not collect data on the number of incarcerated and reentering persons and their families that the serve.
Background: The health center program originated in 1965, with the goal of providing high-quality primary and preventive care to medically-underserved areas and populations. The program is now codified in Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act. To qualify as a health center, an entity must:
- Be located in or serve a high need community (designated Medically Underserved Area or Population).
- Be governed by a community board composed of a majority (51 percent or more) of health center patients who represents the population served.
- Provide comprehensive primary health care services as well as supportive services (education, translation and transportation, etc.) that promote access to health care.
- Provide services available to all with fees adjusted based on ability to pay.
- Meet other performance and accountability requirements regarding administrative, clinical, and financial operations.
- Health centers serve:
- People of all ages: Approximately 33 percent of patients in 2009 were children (age 18 and younger); about 7 percent were 65 or older.
- People with and without health insurance: The proportion of uninsured patients of all ages was approximately 38 percent in 2009, while the number of uninsured patients increased from 4 million in 2001 to over 7.2 million in 2009.
- People of all races and ethnicities: In 2009, 27 percent of health center patients were African-American, and 35 percent were Hispanic/Latino — more than more than double the proportion of African Americans and Hispanics in the U.S. population.
- Special populations: In 2009, health centers served nearly 865,000 migrant and seasonal farm workers and their families; more than 1 million individuals experiencing homelessness; and more than 165,000 residents of public housing.
HRSA does not have data on the number of health center patients who are incarcerated persons, reentering persons, or their family members.
Grantees: Approximately 1,130 grantees, located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Toc locate the closet health center site to a specific geographic area, go to:http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/Search_HCC_byAddr.aspx.
Evaluation Activities: HRSA engages in on-going activities to evaluate health center quality and effectiveness. All grantees are required to submit data on an annual basis, detailing patient demographics, services provided, staffing, clinical indicators, utilization rates, costs, and revenues. These data are reviewed to ensure compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements, improve health center performance and operations, and report overall program accomplishments. The data help to identify trends over times, enabling HRSA to establish or expand targeted programs and identify effective services and interventions to improve the health of underserved communities and vulnerable populations. For more information on these data requirements, please see: http://www.hrsa.gov/data-statistics/health-center-data/index.html#what
Future Prospects: The Affordable Care Act appropriated $11 billion for the Health Center Program for the FY 2010-2014 period. A total of $95 billion is available to create new health center sites in medically underserved areas and expand preventive and primary health care services, including oral health, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, and enabling services, at existing health center sites; $1.5 billion is for construction and renovation of health centers. HRSA expects to award up to $250 million in funding for up to 350 new health center sites in FY 2011.
Public Health Analyst
Additional information available at: http://bphc.hrsa.gov