Los Angeles area health centers win more than $30M in federal grants

By Claire Veyriras and Laura Chilaka

California News Service

WASHINGTON – Los Angeles area health centers will receive more than $30 million to expand service to tens of thousands of uninsured, immigrant and needy patients, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday.

The grants are part of a $728 million nationwide program specified in the 2009 health care bill to help community health programs expand their capacity by building new facilities and renovating existing centers.

Nearly one in six dollars – roughly $122 million – will go to California, aimed primarily at rural areas with large, underserved populations. A clinic in Campo, for example, a small town of less than 3,000 inhabitants just a few miles from the Mexican border, was granted $5.5 million.

The White House distributed a list of grant winners state-by-state in order to highlight benefits stemming from the Affordable Care Act.

“President Obama’s health care law is making community health centers in California stronger,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius said in a written statement.

Among the largest recipients is the Northeast Valley Health Corporation, which serves more than 60,000 mostly uninsured patients from Santa Clarita to Glendale. The clinic received a $5 million grant.

The QueensCare Family Clinic of East Los Angeles also received a $5 million grant, which it intends to use for a new facility to more than double the patients it serves.

“There is a huge need in East Los Angeles. There is a huge amount of health disparity in the population and unfortunately both of our facilities are extremely limited,” said Starr Azimi, QueensCare special projects manager.

In all, more than 15 Los Angeles area clinics received grants from $500,000 to $5 million.

The nationwide program aims to increase the quality and quantity of community health care, which is the primary point of entry for most patients into the health care system. The new money will expand access to an additional 860,000 patients, according to the announcement from HHS.

Tuesday’s announcement is part of the health care law’s provision of $11 billion to expand and bolster community health centers over five years. HHS says it has already supported the construction and renovation of 190 health centers and the creation of 67 new health centers.

The California News Service is a journalism project of the University of California Washington Center and the UC Berkeley School of Journalism. Email: cns@ucdc.edu

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