White House touts new O-Care grants

The White House announced $150 million in new ObamaCare grants Thursday to support expanded access to community-based healthcare around the country.

The move comes as the Obama administration continues to struggle with the rocky implementation of the healthcare law since Oct. 1, when the new insurance exchange debuted with massive problems.

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Thursday's announcement draws attention to a little-known part of the Affordable Care Act that provides $11 billion in funds for community health centers over five years.

Dr. Mary Wakefield, administrator of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, said the recent focus on ObamaCare's health insurance provisions ignores other aspects of the reform.

The grants are "the [Affordable Care Act's] investment, which I think is quite significant, in healthcare services," Wakefield said on a call with reporters.

The money will allow 236 health centers to hire new medical staff, extending care to an additional 1.25 million patients, officials said. The funds may also help establish new health centers.

By the number of grantees, it was the administration's largest single dispersal to community health centers since 2011, Wakefield said.

Officials noted that health centers are a crucial component of outreach under ObamaCare and provide information about the new insurance exchanges.