Through provisions in the Affordable Care Act, the federal government today awarded $61 million to improve and establish new community health centers in Texas. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates the funding for 25 new or improved health centers will serve 78,479 patients across the state.
“For many Americans, community health centers are the major source of care that ranges from prevention to treatment of chronic diseases," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a prepared statement. "This investment will expand our ability to provide high-quality care to millions of people while supporting good paying jobs in communities across the country.”
In total, the ACA is doling out $1.5 billion for new facilities and renovating old ones. The funding will create 6,000 jobs over the next two years, Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a conference call today.
At least, if the money sticks. Texas and 25 other states want the U.S. Supreme court to overturn the federal health care reform law, as they argued before the court in March. It's unknown how the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the case or whether their ruling will affect these funds, but federal officials said they're moving forward despite the uncertainty. The ACA has also been a major issue in the presidential campaign, and the health center announcement could help provide the Obama administration a way to highlight the investments made through the law.
Most of the services provided by community health centers involve primary care to help patients prevent more serious illnesses that can be expensive to care for down the line.
The federal government estimates Texas is short 484 primary care doctors. Most of the underserved regions are rural, according to a 2012 report by the Texas Department of State Health Services that assessed the distribution of physicians in the state by analyzing federal health data and the number of physicians and specialists registered with state licensing boards.
"Outside of the major metropolitan areas, Texas has high population-to-provider ratios," according to the results of the state's data analysis. "The areas west of I-35 face shortages, in some cases requiring patients to travel significant distances to see a specialist."
We've mapped the locations of the Texas cities that will receive funding below. Yellow markers show cities with health centers that received up to $500,000 in grants, while green markers show cities with health centers that received $1 million or more. Click on the icons for details.