October 14, 2010; Source: Phoenix Business Journal | All over the country today, community health centers announced multi-million dollar awards to build capacity to serve their communities better—many marginalized by income, geography, or other factors. Altogether $727 million dollars in Affordable Care Act money was distributed to 143 centers yesterday as part of the planned $11 billion in distributions associated with health care reform.
In Missouri, where $24 million in awards were made, observers noted a few problems that the NPQ Newswire has documented in the past. Joe Pierle, CEO of the Missouri Primary Care Association, says that Missouri has been left out of previous distributions of federal capacity building money for these centers, along with much of the rest of the Midwest. He says political leaders have been making noise to ensure that it doesn’t happen again but it seems a “shell game” is playing out at the state level where funding for federally qualified health centers has become less than generous. This jibes with what we have been hearing elsewhere, that many health centers are struggling to keep pace with rising demand sometimes with decreasing state money even while responding to the availability of federal money for capacity building requires a good deal of attention.
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By now it is a familiar story. “It’s great to have new money,” said Pierle, “but sometime (sic) when you get new money, others try to take (state funding) away. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul.”—Ruth McCambridge