Georgia health centers get funding to expand care

A federal agency has awarded $6.9 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 30 community health centers in Georgia that will help expand their primary care services.

Sylvia Burwell
Sylvia Burwell

That funding was part of $295 million awarded nationally to 1,195 health centers by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“Health centers are a key part of how the Affordable Care Act is working to improve access to care for millions of Americans,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell in announcing the grants Friday. “These funds will enable health centers to provide high-quality primary health care to more people including the newly insured, many of whom may be accessing primary care for the first time in Georgia.”

The money will go to hiring new staff, including new health care providers; staying open for longer hours; and expanding services,  including oral health, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision services. 

The grants will allow the federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) to see more patients at existing clinic sites, said Duane Kavka, executive director of the Georgia Association for Primary Health Care.

The health centers serve underserved areas, offer a sliding fee scale, and provide comprehensive health services. In Georgia, 33 health centers serve 338,996 patients, according to HHS.

Southside Medical Center in Atlanta will get the highest amount among Georgia health centers, with $321,000. The next highest is Southwest Georgia Health Care in Richland, at $279,000.

The health centers have received other recent injections of federal dollars.

Last year, HHS awarded $19 million nationally to create new health care centers, including five in Georgia, in Baldwin, Polk, Chattooga, Taylor and Houston counties.