Anti-Stimulus Christie Touts Success Of Health Clinic Benefiting From Stimulus Dollars

After campaigning on the GOP position that states should reject federal stimulus money with “strings attached,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) yesterday touted his commitment to health care by visiting a community health center that has benefited from two federal health grants made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

“The Burlington City Health Center and all of our New Jersey community health centers are an essential part of our health safety net for those who otherwise would not have a medical home,” Christie said. “These centers offer affordable, high-quality care to residents and families in need. I am proud of the strong support my administration has provided for community health centers in the budget — $113 million in Medicaid and $46.4 million for the uninsured. With this assistance, we are making sure the people and communities who rely on these services lead healthy lives now and in the future.”

But the Burlington City Health Center and its parent organization, the Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers, owe their success to more than state funds; the health centers — which provide health services to over 51,000 of New Jersey’s low-income residents — accepted $1.8 million and $3 million in federal funding through the ARRA’s Capitol Improvements grant and the Health Information Technology Implementation grant, respectively.

Through the combination of grants, the Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers acquired the resources to expand their electronic health records and to improve their facilities through construction or renovation, thereby improving the quality of care for thousands of people.

Ninety-seven percent of health leaders surveyed perceive providers like community health centers as address “a critical need by serving individuals who remain uninsured and by being best equipped to meet the special needs of vulnerable populations,” according to a new Commonwealth Fund/Modern Healthcare report.

Since passing its universal health care law under former Gov. Mitt Romney (R) in 2006, Massachusetts has seen its community health centers rise to meet this need. Clinics saw a surge of 31 percent in the number of patients seeking treatment between 2005 and 2009, health researchers reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The uninsured portion of Massachusetts’ population has tumbled from 7 percent in 2006 to 1.9 percent just last year.

Sarah Bufkin