Saying the move would create jobs as well as provide care for an extra 500,000 low-income patients, President Barack Obama injected almost 600 million dollars on Wednesday into US health centers.
The new spending, to come from the 787-billion-dollar stimulus package enacted in February, was announced as Congress debates a sweeping overhaul of the US health care system that Obama has made his top domestic priority.
AdvertisementThe funds will pay for repairing or rebuilding health centers, technological advances to bring medical records online, and a three-year study to see how care can be improved.
The initiatives "won't just save more money, and create more jobs, they'll give more people the peace of mind of knowing that health care will be there for them and their families when they need it," Obama said.
"Ultimately, that's what health reform is really about," he added in a written statement.
US health centers serve more than 17 million patients, about 38 percent of whom have no health insurance, according to official figures.
"One of the first investments we made through the Recovery Act was in supporting our nation's community health centers, and today we build on that progress by funding new construction and improvement projects at more than 80 facilities nationwide," said Vice President Joe Biden.
"This is what the Recovery Act is all about, providing immediate assistance for hard-hit families, improving our nation's infrastructure and creating new opportunities for stable, well-paid work."
Obama still hopes to pass this year, a bill overhauling the US health care system, but the proposals face blanket opposition in the Senate from Republicans and worries from some Democrats about the 848-billion-dollar price tag.
The United States is the only industrialized democracy that does not ensure that all of its citizens have health care coverage, with an estimated 36 million Americans uninsured.
And Washington spends vastly more on health care -- both per person and as a share of national income as measured by gross domestic product -- than other industrialized democracies, with no meaningful advantage in quality of care, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
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