Scaling up community health centers in the US

Community health centers in the United States serve a vital role in providing primary and preventative care to about 19 million people every year. As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act signed into law in March, centers can apply to get a share of the $11 billion to be spent over the next five years for building clinics, adding health workers, and installing electronic patient health records information management systems.

The bulk of the money being offered by the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, is $9.5 billion to create new health centers in sites deemed underserved to expand access to services like dental care, pharmacy services, and mental health care.

$250 million is now on offer for community centers in an RFP recently issued, that the Washington Post [said](http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/17/AR201008...), with expansions in technology, would also help recruit young doctors work in remote areas unserved by internet and cell phone service. The [deadline](http://www.hrsa.gov/grants/apply/assistance/nap/) for community centers to apply is November 17.

As in many developing countries with large private health markets, the United States has found an innovative way to scale up successful community approaches.