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Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 3:09pm

GA Community Health Centers Get $4.2 Million

The Obama administration announced nearly 129 million dollars in grants to community health centers across the country.

The money comes from a fund established through the Affordable Care Act, which is currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Seven community health care centers in Georgia are splitting a total of $4.2 million. That will allow them to serve 40,000 additional patients.

The centers serve uninsured and under-insured people across the state.

Dr. Robert Campbell, medical director at Christ Community Health Services in Augusta, says they typically can serve 40 new patients a week. But they have weekly requests from 150 to 250 new patients.

“The demand for affordable primary care services in our community far outstrips our ability to provide it. And this funding will allow us to push forward and try to meet that demand even more.”

Another recipient center is the Athens Neighborhood Health Center. Executive Director, Dr. Diane Elizabeth Dunston says they are filling a major gap by providing primary family care.

“Anybody can get full coverage if they go into the emergency room and they’re at the end of life. Anybody ought to be able to have preventive health care.”

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says funding community health centers has been a top administration priority.

“Because of investments we’ve made under the Affordable Care Act and other laws, community health centers today are serving 3-point-1 million more patients than they were in 2009.”

Southwest Georgia Health Care will open a new center in Macon County and one in Peach County. Chief executive officer Dr. Ajay Gehlot says south Georgians face an acute shortage of primary care doctors.

“So they really have no access unless they go to a big city like Macon, or Atlanta or Columbus. But everybody can’t afford to go there for a routine primary care practices..”

Center officials say they would still get some funding if the Supreme Court dismantles the Affordable Care Act.