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Disability News /KLKC

Deficit Compromise Muddles Clinics' Role in Health Reform

Topeka, Ks (Dave Ranney/KHI News Service) - Last month, federal officials were supposed to announce $250 million in grants to help the nation’s safety-net clinics get ready for the thousands of now-uninsured adults who in 2014 are scheduled to be eligible for coverage through the Affordable Care Act. However, according to the Kansas Health Institute News Service, that didn't happen. Instead, the Feds gave out about $29 million to 67 clinics in 21 states and Puerto Rico. The $221 million reduction, officials said, stemmed from an earlier budget compromise built on an $80 billion cut in federal spending.  Nationally, 810 clinics, including seven in Kansas, applied for the grants; 743 came away empty-handed.  Only two Kansas applicants were awarded grants: The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas in Pittsburg received $275,000, and GraceMed Health Clinic in Wichita got $525,000.  Cathy Harding, executive director at the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved said  “The competition was extreme.”  She noted “The lowest-funded application scored 102 on a 100-point scale. That means the grants only went to centers that were eligible for bonus points for things like targeting homeless or migrant populations or being in a frontier county.”  Krista Postai, executive director at the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, said the Pittsburg clinic will use its grant to open or expand satellite facilities in Montgomery County at Coffeyville Regional Medical Center and Coffeyville's lone elementary school. According to 2009 census data, one-fourth of the children in Montgomery County live in households at or below the federal poverty level.