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President Obama: Three New Initiatives to Help Community Health Centers

The President announces a new plan to improve America’s community health centers.

Two causes all Americans can get behind are initiatives to improve our health care system and create jobs in a struggling economy. In an effort to accomplish both at once, today President Obama announced that $600 million in stimulus money will go towards improving community health centers across the country:

[S]tarting today, we're making $88 million in funding available for centers to adopt new health information technology systems to manage their administrative and financial matters and transfer old paper files to electronic medical records.  (Applause.)  These investments won't just increase efficiency and lower costs, they'll improve the quality of care as well –- preventing countless medical errors, and allowing providers to spend less time with paperwork and more time with patients. 

That's the purpose of the final initiative I'm announcing today as well -– a demonstration project to evaluate the benefits of the "medical home" model of care that many of our health centers aspire to.  The idea here is very simple:  that in order for care to be effective, it needs to be coordinated.  It's a model where the center that serves as your medical home might help you keep track of your prescriptions, or get the referrals you need, or work with you to develop a plan of care that ensures your providers are working together to keep you healthy.  

So taken together, these three initiatives –- funding for construction, technology, and a medical home demonstration –- they won't just save money over the long term and create more jobs, they're also going to give more people the peace of mind of knowing that health care will be there for them and their families when they need it. 

And ultimately, that's what health insurance reform is really about.  That's what the members of Congress here today will be voting on in the coming weeks.  (Applause.)  

Now, let me just end by saying a little bit about this broader effort.  I know it's been a long road.  (Laughter.)  I know it's been a tough fight.  But I also know the reason we've taken up this cause is the very same reason why so many members from both parties are here today –- because no matter what our politics are, we know that when it comes to health care, the people we serve deserve better. 

Community Health Seblius Obama

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after signing a memorandum expanding government funded health clinics across the country, Dec. 9, 2009. (Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy) December 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)