KHI News Service

Grant funds remain for nonprofits seeking ACA programs

By Mike Sherry | May 01, 2012

Funding for about four more grantees remains available through an endeavor to help Kansas nonprofits secure money through the hundreds of programs established by the Affordable Care Act.

Approximately $115,550 remains in the Affordable Care Act Opportunity Fund, a $450,000 grant pool created last year by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Kansas Health Foundation, REACH Healthcare Foundation, Sunflower Foundation and United Methodist Health Ministry Fund.

Four health centers that received opportunity fund assistance received a total of $17 million in federal grants, officials announced May 1. A fifth health center was also awarded a $4.6 million grant.

Those receiving assistance were:

• $29,500 — Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas

• $30,000 — PrairieStar Health Center

• $30,000 — Konza Prairie Community Health Center

• $15,000 — Salina Family Healthcare Center

Read more about the five health centers awarded ACA grants.

The aim of the fund is to help Kansas nonprofits, including government agencies, take preliminary steps toward applying for funding through Affordable Care Act programs. For instance, seven of the grants have gone to community health centers that need architectural designs for expansions they hope to help fund through health reform money available through the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The ACA Opportunity Fund has awarded a dozen grants, at a maximum of $30,000, throughout the state since August.

Proposals facilitated through the Topeka-based grant fund remain pending, said Sheldon Weisgrau, who administers the program as director of the Health Reform Resource Project. As part of the project, Weisgrau travels throughout the state to provide information about the health reform law to organizations and agencies.

Fund to expire at year's end

Executives with the five funders consider applications on a rolling basis, though plans call for the fund to sunset by the end of year. The foundations have not decided on a course of action if money remains unallocated at the end of the year. That scenario is unlikely, Weisgrau said.

“The clock is ticking here and the funds are available only as long as they are available,” he said. “It all could be gone in a few months.”

Grant recipients include the Health Innovations Network of Kansas (HINK), a consortium of 19 northeast Kansas hospitals, and the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas in Pittsburg.

The HINK hospitals include facilities in Jefferson and Brown counties, along with Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center in Topeka. HINK existed prior to applying for the ACA Opportunity grant, said Martie Ross, an Overland Park-based health care consultant who worked with the group on activities funded by the grant.

But she said the grant fostered relationships among hospital administrators so they could discuss ways to better coordinate care through initiatives like telemedicine and shared reimbursements.

HINK applied for a grant through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to explore shared payments and for a technology grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration. It was unsuccessful in its application to the Johnson foundation and awaits word on the federal submission.

Even if the ACA Opportunity grant does not lead to additional funding, Ross said the increased cooperation among administrators nurtured by the money remains.

“They have really broken down that competitive spirit,” she said, by realizing that “they can use collaboration to improve their own financial bottom line as well as health outcomes in their communities.”

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