Community health centers land $4.25M

Up to $90M in grants expected over 15 years

Neighborhood Health Plan (NHP) and Partners HealthCare will award a total of $4.25 million in a first round of grants through the Partnership for Community Health to all 49 community health centers (CHCs) that are members of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.

The grants, announced on Jan. 14, will fund the implementation of health information technology systems, meaningful use training, medical coding training and performance improvement.

[See also: Maine community health centers aim to boost outcomes.]

The CHCs have each chosen a project related to infrastructure improvement that will allow them to continue their efforts to reduce barriers to access, promote health equity and provide care for patients in their communities. Every CHC in Massachusetts that applied received a grant.

During the next 15 years, the Partnership for Community Health will provide up to $90 million in grant funding to CHCs to develop and launch measurable programs that enhance health outcomes, service, efficiencies and quality of care, officials said in a news release. Grants will focus on projects that support expanded programs and improve the infrastructure of CHCs.

In this first round of funding, grants were awarded in four categories:

  • Health Information Technology Reporting. For the purchase, implementation and training of staff on new information technology systems designed to enhance patient care and improve patient health through the collection and application of valid and timely health data.
  • Meaningful Use Training. For staff training on how to meet a core set of federally-mandated objectives for using health technology to improve the delivery of health care and the health outcomes of patients. Under the national health reform law, achieving meaningful use determines whether a health care organization can receive incentive payments from the federal government for care provided to Medicaid and Medicare patients.
  • Medical Coding Training. To assist health centers in meeting new coding requirements established by the Affordable Care Act.  This funding provides clinicians with the necessary knowledge and skills for accurately documenting the complexity of care among their patient populations, and to ensure the necessary revenue to support that care.
  • Training and Capacity Building for Performance Improvement. To provide opportunities for health center staff teams to participate in structured Performance Improvement programs.  These teams gain the knowledge and competencies critical for building and sustaining quality improvement across their organizations.

[See also: Some community health centers live up to their name.]

"Neighborhood Health Plan’s mission is rooted in providing better access to health care for underserved populations throughout the state," said NHP President and CEO Deborah C. Enos. "This first round of grants is vital in our effort to enhance our support for the community health centers that care for so many of our members."

"Community health centers are a cornerstone of an accessible, high-quality, and cost-effective healthcare delivery system, particularly for the underserved," said Gary L. Gottlieb, MD, President and CEO, Partners HealthCare, said in a statement. "The Partnership for Community Health is a crucial initiative that will support the state’s community health centers for years come in serving the needs of patients across the Commonwealth."

"This first round of grants will help CHCs prepare for the changes that health reform has brought, while allowing them to continue delivering their innovative care to the more than 800,000 patients they serve statewide," said the League’s president and CEO James W. Hunt, Jr.

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