By Erin Delmore
“Bottom line is, everyone deserves access to health care,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.
New grant money under the Affordable Care Act is making its way to New Jersey: nearly $36 million, spread among 16 health centers. Senate Finance Committee member Menendez announced the payout he secured for his home state.
“Our communities prosper when there is access to health care,” Menendez said.
The injection of cash is headed toward community health centers, which grant low-cost access to health care.
Federally qualified health centers, like one in West New York, offer a range of services, from flu shots to mammograms. They often function as a primary care doctor for their patients — especially those on Medicare or Medicaid and those without insurance.
“When you walk in, you see mothers with children, you see senior citizens, you see others who in fact would not have high quality health care as a primary care other than through a federally qualified health center,” Menendez said.
More than $140 million has flowed to New Jersey under the Affordable Care Act allowing federally qualified health centers to offer more services, expand their hours, hire staff, open new centers and renovate existing ones.
“We have over 250,000 New Jerseyans who now have coverage because of the ACA. We have close to a half a million people who are now covered due to Medicaid expansion, so the work that we’re doing is manifesting itself in actual numbers here and we’re grateful to see that,” said Jackie Cornell-Bechelli, Region II Administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
New Jersey is getting a slice of an $11 billion pie. The new Affordable Care Act funding will be spread around the states over five years, garnering an estimated 20 million new patients.
President Obama’s signature health law has been under fire from conservatives since its announcement in 2010.
“When we talk about the Affordable Care Act and sort of the controversy around it, it almost seems comical to think that we’re still having this discussion. There are now 17 million Americans that have coverage thanks to the ACA plans or Medicaid expansion,” Cornell-Bechelli said.
The North Hudson Community Action Corporation will receive nearly $4.8 million. It operates health centers in Union City, North Bergen, Jersey City, Harrison, Garfield, Hackensack, Englewood, Passaic and West New York. Administrators said these health centers handled more than 245,000 visits last year.