MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Community health centers in Miami-Dade, Broward and across the state will only get about $21 million if federal grants this year.
The grants were made possible by the Affordable Care Act. Community leaders estimate the money will help them serve more than 41,000 new patients, according to the health department statement.
State leaders and Gov. Rick Scott turned down more than a hundred million dollars in grants which were tied to the federal health care law which the state is challenging in court.
Borinquen Health Care Center, Inc., which was awarded more than $4.2 million, serves 27,000 patients in Miami every year, up from 13,000 four years ago. The majority of patients don’t have health insurance.
“It doesn’t matter to me (where the money is coming from),” said Borinquen CEO Bob Linder. “We’re there for those who need to be served. These moneys are tremendous opportunities for us that we can expand our services.”
Linder says the demand for health care services has increased in the downturned economy as the unemployed and underemployed struggle to find health insurance. The organization has 13 locations, including five schools centers, and serves about 3,000 Haitians a month. The grant money will allow the center to expand from 18 to 32 exam rooms, modernize its x-ray machines, add more dental chairs and add hurricane impact windows.
The medical home model, where patients go to one location for regular health care, can better coordinate care for the patients they know and are monitoring over time, in theory. Proponents say it also saves money by diverting patients from making emergency room visits for less serious issues.
Borinquen has an ER diversion program with three local hospitals.
Scott’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment about Tuesday’s $21 million grant announcement.
Scott and the Republican-led Legislature have rejected or declined to pursue more than $106 million in federal grant money and returned another $4.5 million for programs linked to federal health care initiatives, including cancer prevention, leading critics to say he is putting his conservative agenda ahead of residents’ needs.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars are going to other states that rightly should be going to Florida because we deserve to have our fair share of what our taxpayers send up to Washington,” said Democratic Sen. Nan Rich.
“One after the other, we either don’t apply or turn back grant money that rightfully belongs to the taxpayers of Florida.”
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