HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius endorsed President Obama’s jobs bill in today’s Huffington Post, writing that the plan would “provide an immediate boost to America’s economy.” She argued that the Affordable Care Act will also improve job growth and touted a new round of community health care grants: “the availability of $700 million in new funding to support the renovation and construction of community health centers — an investment that will create thousands of good jobs in construction and health care while enabling more Americans to get the kind of affordable primary care that can keep them healthy and out of the hospital.”
Indeed, investing in CHCs — one area of health reform both Democrats and Republicans can agree on — totals $11 billion over 5 years and could “generate $54 billion in economic activity in 2015, with $33 billion of this a direct result of the additional investment in the new law” — that’s 457,300 jobs by 2015. The additional dollars will set off a job spiral: 1) health centers directly employ people in their communities, including key entry-level jobs, training, and other community-based opportunities and 2) health centers then purchase goods and services from local businesses and expand and build new locations. Thus, every dollar spent and every job created by health centers has a direct impact on local economies.
Republicans have long supported CHCs as a means of expanding health care coverage — despite proposing massive cuts to centers in the last year. Former President George W. Bush doubled U.S. financing for community health centers and Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) has described CHCs as “essential,” regularly touting new federal funds for CHCs in his district.