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Millions Coming to Help Expand WI Community Health Centers

May 2, 2012

MARSHFIELD, Wis. - Four community health centers in Wisconsin are getting nearly $16 million in federal Affordable Care Act funding to expand and renovate.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius on Tuesday announced funding of more than $728 million for expansion and renovation of community health centers across the nation.

Family Health of Marshfield will receive $4.4 million to build its ninth affordable dental-care center near Black River Falls in central Wisconsin, according to spokesman Bob Mackle.

"This particular one will be on or near an Indian reservation, and as with all the other sites, it serves underserved communities in rural areas, economically disadvantaged people. There's a huge demand. There's an estimate of up to a million people in Wisconsin (who) lack access to dental care for various reasons."

About $5 million will go to Progressive Community Health Centers in Milwaukee, about $3.5 million to Primary Connection Health Care in Wausau, and $3 million to Access Community Health Center in Madison. This round of funding is unique because federal funds usually are allocated only for patient care. The money should not only improve health-care access but create construction jobs as the projects get under way.

Tom Van Coverden, who heads the National Association of Community Health Care Centers, echoes Mackle's comments about the need for more access to affordable care.

"It's already jammed, and so I think it absolutely will help provide the space that they'll need and help recruit the physicians and nurses that they need to get more care to more people. But the demand is certainly there for more care."

This funding through the Affordable Care Act is part of a plan to double the capacity of the community health-center system by 2015. The money already has been allocated, and the health-center expansion has bipartisan support.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI