WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama visited a community health center Monday to announce the release of $850 million in stimulus grants to help such clinics across the country provide care.
"From the young to the old, from rural ... communities to the inner cities, both the insured and uninsured, 17 million Americans rely on community health centers every year to help them stay healthy," she said at Unity Health Care Inc.'s Upper Cardozo Health Center.
Mrs. Obama listed obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure as diseases that community health centers can fight through preventive care. She expressed particular concern about the importance of teaching children to eat healthily.
"But to be effective in this fight, you're going to need more help, you're going to need more resources," the first lady said.
The $850 million will include $2.5 million to Upper Cardozo for 20 new examination rooms. According to Mrs. Obama every health center that applied will receive at least $200,000.
Mrs. Obama met privately with about eight patients and five doctors at the health center before speaking to a larger group of health center patients and employees, as well as reporters.
The stimulus law set aside about $2.5 billion for free and low-cost health clinics. Two earlier sets of grants awarded just under $500 million to health centers.
Mrs. Obama said that besides helping health center patients, the grant money could create jobs as health centers nationwide are renovated and upgraded.