Daily Video

May 27, 2009

Stimulus Money Helps Community Health Centers

Community health centers, like the Lorain County Health and Dentistry, were created in the 1960s as part of President Johnson’s war on poverty. They are designed as a safety net for the poor and uninsured in America.

Emergency rooms all across the country have to help people with or without insurance but tend to be much more expensive than a visit to a doctor. Going to the ER when it’s not an emergency, drives up costs of all health care in the United States for everyone as, last year at just this one hospital in Lorain alone, un-reimbursed care hit a whopping $20 million.

Because community health centers are nonprofit they can provide health care to anyone who needs it, regardless of ability to pay but in this economy everyone is facing funding challenges.

President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package that passed Congress included help for health care clinics such as the one in Lorain. Stephanie Wiersma, the Lorain Health Center president, has already decided how she will spend the stimulus money. She knows it’s a one-time two-year program, so she’s going to use some of the funds to expand now and reach more people and invest in low cost health care.

NewsHour Health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser talks to those who are most affected by this new funding.


“I know it’s only $10 difference with the $40, but you wouldn’t believe. It’s so much easier: $10 can fill a gas tank, put a meal on the table, pay a bill.”-Ceberta Gilles, patient

“And then I just let them put me in collections for the bill, because I can’t afford it. I don’t worry about it. I look at it and say, ‘Oh, it’s a hospital bill,’ rip it up, and throw it away.” -Jessi Killean, patient

Warm Up Questions

1. How important is your health? What happens when you get sick?

2. How do most people get their health care?

3. What is the emergency room?

Discussion Questions

1. Who should pay for healthcare? Should it come from employers or government? Explain your answer.

2. Lorain County is getting stimulus funding to make these investments in healthcare; do you think that is a good idea? Why or why not?

3. Why is healthcare expensive? Is there anything that can be done to make it more affordable?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

Robert Wood Johnson website

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