FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Contact: HRSA Press Office
HHS Marks Expansion of 1200th Health Center, Meeting Key Bush Goal
Facilities Provide Access to Care for Millions of Americans
Many of the country’s neediest communities now have greater access to medical treatment, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said today in marking fulfillment of President Bush’s 2001 pledge to open or expand 1,200 community health centers.
Health centers deliver primary and preventive care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. Charges for health care services at health centersare set according to income, and only nominal fees are collected from the poorest patients.
President Bush launched the Health Center Initiative to significantly increase access to primary health care services in 1,200 communities through new or expanded health center sites. Between 2001 and 2006, the number of patients treated at health centers has increased by over 4.7 million, representing a nearly 50 percent increase in just five years. In 2006 the number of patients served at those centerstopped the 15 million mark for the first time.
“People served by health centers are among the most vulnerable in America,” Secretary Leavitt said. “By extending care to communities where none existed before, we are strengthening the nation’s health care safety net for those with no where to turn.
“Years ago the President saw the potential of these facilities and today millions of Americans have benefited from his vision and commitment,” the Secretary added.
The Health Center Program administered by HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) includes more than 4,000 service delivery sites, comprised of community health centers, migrant health centers, health care for the homeless centers and public housing primary care centers located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin.
Typically, about two-thirds of health center patients are minorities, and 9 out of 10 have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. Four in 10 health center patients have no health insurance.
The range of services offered at health centers has increased along with the number of patients served. In 2006, almost 2.6 million patients received dental services, an increase of more than 80 percent over the 1.4 million dental patients served in 2001. Gains were even more striking among patients who received mental health services. In 2006, 470,000 patients came to health centers for mental health care, an increase of almost 170 percent over the 176,000 patients who received such care in 2001.
HHS’ success in implementing the President’s initiative led to another Presidential initiative, first announced in 2005, to extend the benefits of health centers to the poorest counties of the country. The High Poverty Counties Initiative achieved major success in 2007 when HHS announced the first set of nearly $40 million in grants awarded to 80 new health center sites. These grants will help an estimated 300,000 residents in these areas gain access to health center services.
“With these two initiatives, we have been able to focus on not only increasing access to care at new sites but we also increased the quality of care and added new services like oral and mental health,” said HRSA Administrator Elizabeth Duke.
The health center program’s annual budget has grown from $1.16 billion in fiscal year 2001 to $1.99 billion in fiscal year 2007.
Additional information on HHS-funded health centers is available at: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/ and http://bphc.hrsa.gov/presidentsinitiative/
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last revised: January 20, 2009