The money from the federal government will help people get treatment, regardless of their insurance status.

The People’s Community Health Clinic in Waterloo, Iowa, will be able to provide more care in the New Year thanks to a $1 million grant from the federal government.

Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), who represents the district the clinic is located in, announced the grant on Dec. 30. Improving access to healthcare has been one of Rep. Finkenauer’s priorities to address while in office. 

“We must continue to move toward the goal of providing Iowans with access to high-quality, affordable health care,” Finkenauer said in a statement. “I have had the privilege of seeing firsthand how Peoples Community Health Clinic is part of the solution, and I am happy to see them receive this meaningful grant that will help Iowans.”

People’s Community Health Clinic provides health care to the Clarksville and Waterloo communities, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay or insurance status. The health clinic, which has been around since 1976, also offers other services like counseling, lab work, and X-ray services.

“As a Federally Qualified Health Center, the clinic receives this grant specifically to provide healthcare services on a sliding scale dependent on the patient or family’s income,” Augusta Sires, who serves as a Community Relations Specialist for People’s Community Health Clinic, said in an interview with COURIER.

The grant money will be used to help fund the clinic’s medical, dental, behavioral health and substance use disorder services, Sires explained. 

“Grants like this help enable us to reduce financial barriers to high quality healthcare.  Healthcare should not be something that people are unable to receive due to the inability to pay,” Sires said. She said federal grants are vital to keeping the clinics operational, with the most recent on making up about 20% of the clinic’s annual budget. 

Clinics that serve low income and uninsured patients are especially important in Iowa, where about 22% of patients that use community clinics are uninsured. According to the Iowa Primary Care Association, more than 216,000 individuals use community health centers and 93% of those patients are living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.

According to the Iowa Department of Health, distance is one of the state’s biggest challenges to access healthcare in the state, an issue that is compounded when patients don’t have reliable transportation. 

The state has 82 critical access hospitals to serve its rural community and health clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers like The People’s Community Health Clinic help to fill those gaps in care where patients don’t have access to full-fledged hospitals. 

When looking at the health of the population, Iowa falls about in the middle of the pack. Out of 50 states Iowa ranks 20th in America’s Health Rankings which was created through a partnership between the United Health Foundation and the American Public Health Association.