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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Partners HealthCare gives out first $4.25 million to community health centers

Partners HealthCare and Neighborhood Health Plan announced $4.25 million in grants to community health centers today.

The state’s largest hospital and physician organization and its newly-acquired insurer plan to give $90 million to health centers over the next 15 years, and today’s awards are the first installment.

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The grants range from $20,000 to $150,000 and will be used to purchase electronic medical records systems. They also will pay to train staff to use the systems, to properly bill for complex patient care under the new federal health law, and to implement quality improvement programs.

Partners President Dr. Gary Gottlieb planned to announce the funding at Greater Lawrence Family Health Center and the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center.

The initiative is part of a broad push to strengthen Massachusetts primary care providers. Community health centers are expected to play a bigger role in patient care under the state’s new health cost-control law and the federal health care law. But many centers struggle financially because most of their patients are insured by government programs rather than private insurers, which typically make more generous payments.

The 49 centers that belong to the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers — a partner in the initiative — care for 800,000 patients, about 70 percent of whom are on the government-funded insurance programs.

Kowalczyk can be reached at kowalczyk@globe.com
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