Florida community health centers will get $8.3 million in federal funds to expand the number of patients they can treat, U.S. Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.
Locally, Community Health Centers of Pinellas received $441,667, and Tampa Family Health Center got $239,583.
The money is to hire new doctors and nurses, purchase new equipment and lease new clinic space so that another 73,000 Floridians can get health care, officials said.
Nationwide, about $150 million in funds went to community health centers in 43 states. The money was part of the Affordable Care Act, which lays out $11 billion over five years to expand health care access, federal officials said Wednesday.
Mary Wakefield, administrator of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, told reporters Wednesday that the timing of the grant announcements wasn't tied to the current controversy surrounding the law's implementation. The law has been in the spotlight, in large part because of a problem-plagued website where people are supposed to shop for subsidized insurance.
"This is the Affordable Care Act's investment in health care services," she said.
Florida health centers served more than 1.1 million patients last year, 44 percent of them uninsured. In July, the federal government awarded another $150 million in grants for the centers to hire outreach specialists who can help people enroll in subsidized private insurance through the exchange.
Because the state of Florida is refusing to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, there will be nearly 800,000 residents who can't get Medicaid but can't afford to purchase health insurance on the federal marketplace. These are among the people likely to seek help at the community health centers.