News Column

6 Michigan Health Centers To Share $3.6 M In Federal Grants

June 20, 2012

Robin Erb


Three new community health centers will expand access to health care for Detroit's un- and underinsured with a portion of $3.6 million in federal grants on the way to Michigan, the nation's top health official is expected to announce today on a stop in Detroit.

Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will deliver the latest direct benefits of the Obama plan for health care reform today -- even as the U.S. Supreme Court is on the verge of upholding, dismantling, or striking down sections of the law.

Six Michigan community health centers, including the three in Detroit, will share $3,663,021. They are part of $128.6 million in grants that will be dispersed to community health centers in throughout the U.S.

Sebelius is expected to make the announcement during a visit the Covenant Community Care health clinic on Michigan Avenue at noon today.

These funds are awarded in Michigan:

--Covenant Community Care, Inc., Detroit -- $868,750 --The Wellness Plan Medical Centers, Detroit -- $650,000 --Wayne County, Detroit -- $650,000 --Genesee County, Flint -- $608,333 --Cherry Street Services, Grand Rapids -- $566,667 --MidMichigan Health Services, Houghton Lake -- $319,271

Paul Propson, Covenant's executive director, declined to discuss specific dollar figures Tuesday. But he said such grants generally are the catalyst for investment in a community's health. They help cover initial renovation, equipment and staff costs necessary to open a center. After a health center is established, others -- health care providers and foundations, for example -- begin partnering with it, growing its outreach into multi-million-dollar operations.

"So what starts as maybe $650,000 becomes $6 million in care," Propson said.

Under the health reform plan, $11 billion over a five-year period would fund the operation, expansion, and construction of health centers throughout the U.S. Today's announcement is the second year of funding.

Michigan lost out on a first round of in grants in August, and $28.8 million in funds went to centers in other states.

That funding decision especially frustrated healthcare providers and advocates for the poor in southeast Michigan. Supported by $300,000 in philanthropic funding, a group of clinics had conducted a needs assessment of health care services throughout Wayne County and hired skilled grant writers to submit nine applications for funds that would help close the service gaps, Chris Allen, executive director of the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority, said Tuesday.

HHS considered those applications again for the second round of funding.

"The scores that we received on the applications were high," Allen said, also declining to discuss dollar figures.

Today's announcement also is expected to draw protestors, specifically those who oppose a rule that most employers must extend healthcare coverage for contraception and sterilization.

That rule has set off national protests, especially by religious institutions that feel they're being forced to cover cost for measures they consider against God's will.

"I'm not so against the health care reform law, per se," Monica Migliorino Miller, a professor of theology at Madonna University who heads the Citizens for a Pro-Life Society. "I do believe there should be a sort of social safety net for those who are underprivileged. That's not so much the issue for me," she said of health care reform.

Nor is she protesting Covenant or any of its four clinics, she said.

"What bothers me is about so called Obamacare is the facilitation of abortion," said Miller, one of two coordinators who helped organize protests across the U.S.

Source: (c)2012 the Detroit Free Press

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