Ladies and gentlemen, Obamacare in action:
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced awards of $727 million to 143 community health centers across the country to address pressing construction and renovation needs and expand access to quality health care. The funds are the first in a series of awards that will be made available to community health centers under the Affordable Care Act....
"There is no question that the economic downturn has made it harder for some Americans to get health care and important preventive services. Community Health Centers provide quality healthcare services to Americans across the country but are a life line for those who have lost coverage or are between jobs. These funds from the Affordable Care Act will help get more people care in some communities where there have not been many options in the past," said Secretary Sebelius. "The newly constructed or expanded community health centers will provide care to an additional 745,000 patients and much needed employment opportunities in both rural and urban underserved communities."
Do you like apples? Well, how do you like them apples?
The HHS press release notes that, "This builds on the more than $2 billion investment in community health centers in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."
A full state-by-state list of Recovery Act health center funding is available here. In my home state of Tennessee, that includes an investment of around $2 million at the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Care Center (which provides treatment to AIDS patients as well as some outstanding community prevention programs), $2 million for Cherokee Health Services in the Knoxville area, $2 million for Community Health in Oakdale, $2 million for Hardin County Regional Health Center in Savannah, $2 million for Christ Community Health in Memphis, another $1 million for Memphis Health Center, and the list goes on.
This is real money. It is being used to save lives and provide healthcare for poor people. And it's being spent by the federal government at a time of economic recession unlike anything we've seen since the Great Depression.
When I hear people making fun of the Recovery Act ("Where are the jobs?" asks John Boehner), I think of stuff like this. I realize that the jobs are the ones that would have been lost if we had done nothing. The jobs of teachers, police officers, firefighters, nurses, healthcare providers, construction workers, and countless others have been saved and created through this infusion of capital into our economy.
Obamacare is making investments that will save money on patient care in years to come. These Community Health Centers are improving health outcomes for those who are most at-risk in our economy.
This handy fact sheet is designed for easy printing and distribution in your community. HHS reports that 19 million people were served through these clinics in 2009 - and over 40% of those served are without insurance. One-third of the patients in 2009 were children.
This is not government-run healthcare. These facilities rely on private donations as well as public funding support from state, local, and federal grants. Matthew Walker, for example, recently completed a $5 million capital campaign to improve its facilities. The community health centers exist in parts of the country where economic inequality makes quality healthcare unavailable or unaffordable. Frequently, community health centers treat members of minority groups, like African-Americans in north Nashville who for years have been treated as second-class citizens and whose property values have been ravaged by white flight and suburban sprawl.
Community health centers are serving the communities of people who end up getting left behind by the NIMBY crowd who think that if they simply stop providing community services, the problems will go away. They don't go away. They just get marginalized.
Obamacare is hated by those who have been trying to neglect or ignore their responsibility to their neighbors in need. If you build your life around the core values of greed and self-interest, I'm sure you'll be likely to think that Obamacare is a disaster.
But to use a metaphor that came up in the news this week, sometimes the fire in your neighbor's house can start a fire in your own backyard. An economy based on irresponsibility and cutthroat capitalism can only work for a while.
So celebrate Obamacare this fall.
Celebrate the accomplishments of Democrats, who have taken this economy from recession to recovery. Celebrate the Recovery Act, which has saved or created millions of jobs across the United States. Celebrate Wall Street Reform and the effort to rein in the excesses and irresponsibility of our financial sector. Celebrate the passage of climate legislation by the House of Representatives, which is still waiting to be considered in the Senate because of a Republican filibuster. Celebrate the passage of campaign finance reform like the DISCLOSE Act, which has been passed by the House and is being blocked by Republicans.
We have a record to be proud of, but the story won't tell itself.
Knock on doors.
Host a house party.