- Introduction: A Top-Level Look at the Future of Federal Medicine
- Military Health System in Time of Transition as Conflicts End
- Army Medicine: Redefining Its Role in the Generation of a Ready and Resilient Force
- Air Force Medicine: Averting an Identity Crisis
- Moving Forward with Reforming the Indian Health Service
- The Clinical Pharmacy Specialist's Growing Provider Role in VA
- Public Health Service Pharmacy: Accelerating Transformation
- Military Pain Management’s Future: Less Invasive, More Data-Driven Techniques
- Navy Medicine: Strong, Agile and Ready
- Telemental Health in VA: A New Source of Support for Veterans
Providing Quality Care To Underserved Families and Communities
Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, Rn, HRSA Administrator
The Health Resources and Services Administration, an HHS agency, has major responsibility for supporting the quality and accessibility of the healthcare safety net. In many communities – particularly in rural America, and in our most economically disadvantaged urban enclaves – a HRSA-funded health center, Healthy Start site, or healthcare provider is sometimes the only help available.
In 2012, HRSA will continue to pursue our mission of improving Americans’ health and providing equitable access to healthcare and we’ll strengthen ongoing efforts to implement the dozens of provisions of the Affordable Care Act that were entrusted to us by Congress and President Obama.
Four goals direct HRSA employees in pursuit of our mission. The first is improving access to quality healthcare and services. We do this by assuring a medical home for the patients our grantees serve, by expanding oral health and behavioral health services and integrating them into primary-care settings, and by integrating primary care and public health.
Our second goal is to strengthen the health work force. We use our programs to train health professionals to provide high-quality, culturally and linguistically appropriate care, to increase the number of available providers, and to develop strategies to monitor and forecast long-term health work force needs.
Goal No. 3 is to build healthy communities. We help communities strengthen their ability to link people to appropriate healthcare services and we promote the growth of illness prevention and health promotion efforts at the community level. That’s also a focus of the Affordable Care Act.
Our fourth goal is to improve health equity: We want to eliminate disparities in access to quality healthcare across populations and communities. To meet that goal, we partner with diverse communities and diverse organizations to develop and disseminate innovative community-based health equity solutions, with a particular focus on populations with the greatest health disparities.
We work toward all these goals through the programs we administer, programs that define HRSA as one of the federal government’s best resources in the ongoing effort to make sure that every American – regardless of income, health insurance status or geographic isolation – has access to high-quality primary healthcare.
What we do
Our $9 billion annual budget supports a broad array of programs and services. We oversee a nationwide network of community health centers that provide primary and preventive care to low-income and uninsured people, helping them maintain good health and assisting those with chronic illnesses in keeping their conditions in check. Our 1,100 grantees provide this care at more than 8,100 clinical sites nationwide.
Similarly, HRSA strengthens the nation’s primary care workforce by giving financial support to colleges and universities for training and curriculum development, and for scholarship and loan repayment programs for health professions students. These wide-ranging work force programs include training in primary care medicine and dentistry, training programs for nurses and advanced education nursing, and support for geriatric education.
Our Maternal and Child Health block grants to states pay for healthcare services, screening and counseling that reach six of every 10 women in the U.S. who give birth, and their infants. In addition, we administer the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program through our partnership with 900 clinics nationwide. Ryan White grantees provide primary care, support services and life-sustaining pharmaceuticals to about 530,000 people living with HIV/AIDS who cannot otherwise afford care.
Furthermore, HRSA administers the federal program that cares for people with Hansen’s disease. We also oversee organ, bone marrow and cord blood donation. We have an office dedicated to supporting the delivery of health care in rural areas, and we run a program that provides low-cost, discount prescription drugs to safety-net providers.
We discharge these and other responsibilities through partnerships with state, local and community organizations across the country. For example, about 3,000 grants are awarded annually for the direct provision of healthcare services, health professions training, facilities construction, and research and database management. In many ways, HRSA is a direct bridge between the federal government and entities at the state and local levels.