Stimulate US: Healthcare

The health care system is sick. Or broken, or in desperate need of repair. But whatever you want to call it, it's not all bad out there. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is aiming some of its dollars -- $155 million, to be precise -- at 126 health centers around the country.

When all is said and done, for the next year or two, it's estimated that 750,000 individuals around the nation will be helped.

This is still all so new that the public affairs people at the National Institute of Health couldn't yet point me in the direction to any of the beneficiaries of the stimulus money, but the office of Congresswoman Mary Jo Kiljoy, representing the 15th Congressional District of Ohio, suggested I contact Lower Lights Christian Health Center. It's one of those 126 health centers who will be receiving funds -- $1.3 million, to be exact: half of it in 2009 and the other half will come in 2010.Sharon Griner, the development director at Lower Lights, says that it hasn't the money yet, but they expect to within the next 90 days. They had been trying for two years to get grant money from the federal government, but with 200 applicants vying for 40 slots, their day hadn't come yet. But after the stimulus package was passed, the government looked to the health centers who had applied for funding in the last year, and Lower Lights was one of those chosen.

But just the promise of those funds is apparently already helping the economy. At least, Lower Lights knows that they won't have to lay anyone off, which was something that they had apparently feared.

"The economy's hurting us, just as the demand for our services are increasing," observes Griner. But now she says that they'll be able to hire some more healthcare professionals that they wouldn't have otherwise, and that they'll be able to see more uninsured patients, and they're also going to add dental care to their services, which include screenings and treatment for diabetes, prostate cancer screenings and Pap smears.

When they first learned the news from Congresswoman Kiloy herself, Griner says that everyone around Lower Lights kept asking, "Are you for real?" Then once the reality sank in, reports Griner, "It was pure excitement."

Read more of WalletPop's coverage of how the economic stimulus package will help you, right here.
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