The federal government has committed to significant new funding for community health centers in the coming years. Nationally, about $13B will become available over the next 5 years for community health center expansion ($9.5B); facility improvement ($1.5B) and workforce development ($1.5B). This translates into about 7,000 to 10,000 new community health center sites nationally over the next 5 years. We don’t know how much will eventually end up in Arizona- but we’re roughly 2% of the national population- translating to 140 new sites (potentially). The centers will be funded through a competitive national competition and service elements will include medical, dental, mental health, substance abuse, lab, pharmacy and x-ray services. The services will focus on folks that earn at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
One of the elements in the competitive process will include demonstrating that the center will be located in a Medically Underserved Area, which is a place that has a more critical need for medical services because of various factors like a low ratio of primary care physicians per person, a high infant mortality rate, a high percentage of people below the federal poverty level, and a high percentage of people over 65. There’s a host of information about medically underserved areas etc. on our Health systems Development website at: http://www.azdhs.gov/hsd/index.htm. Also, potential community health centers can visit the federal Shortage Designation Advisor website to check specific addresses to see whether they are in an underserved area. To find out more about community health centers visit http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/requirements.htm