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Alaska Awarded $9.3 Million for Community Health Centers

Construction, expansion planned in Anchorage, Southeast Alaska

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today announced the first round of funding for Alaska community health centers (CHCs) made possible by the new health reform law. Health centers provide quality primary care in remote or medically underserved parts of Alaska and the rest of the country.

The awards from the Health Resources and Services Administration total $8 million for the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center and $1.3 million for the Juneau-based Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC).

"I'm very pleased the expanded CHC funding we built into reform is starting to roll out," Begich said. "Health centers play a huge role in providing basic health care to Alaskans and I was an especially strong supporter of this provision in the new law."

Today's awards of $727 million to 143 community health centers across the country are the first in a series. Over the next five years, the Affordable Care Act provides $11 billion in funding for the operation, expansion and construction of health centers nationally.

Currently about 80,000 Alaskans get their basic medical care at health centers, Begich said. That total will expand in the years ahead. For the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center (ANHC), today's award is a major financing piece of a new, $28.3 million facility. Work has already begun at the new site near C Street and International Airport Road.

"We were more than shovel ready," said ANHC executive director Joan Fisher, who received the news today in a nationwide phone call with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The new center is scheduled to open in August 2012.  It will more than double the size of the current center to 42,000 square feet, and greatly expand the number of dental and medical exam rooms. This means more Alaskans will have better access to quality primary health care. ANHC is already seeing a growing number of Anchorage Medicare patients.  In Southeast, SEARHC operates Mount Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka, the Judge Medical Clinic and smaller clinics in Haines and Klawock.

Funding for CHCs in the new health reform law builds on the more than $2 billion investment in community health centers in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A state-by-state list of Recovery Act investments in community health centers is available at http://www.hhs.gov/recovery/programs/hrsa/index.html.

For more information on HRSA's community health center program, visit http://bphc.hrsa.gov/.

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