Thursday, December 10, 2009

SWGA RURAL HEALTH CLINIC AWARDED $1.2 MILLION IN RECOVERY ACT FUNDS

Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) announced that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $1,208,700 in grant funding for Southwest Georgia Health Care, Inc. (Richland, Ga.) to support construction and renovation projects, create new job opportunities in construction and health care and provide care for additional patients in an underserved rural community of Southwest Georgia. The grant is provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“Stimulus bill”).

“This funding will provide much-needed support to an underfunded community health center in a rural area of Southwest Georgia,” Bishop said following a bipartisan grant announcement ceremony at the White House. “Many citizens in this area do not receive adequate preventative and primary care services. This grant will allow Southwest Georgia Health Care, Inc. to improve and expand access to health care services. In addition, the multiplier effect that these funds will create in terms of job creation and economic growth will have an immediate impact on this area.”

Through Stimulus funding for this project in Richland, Ga., jobs will be created for contractors, construction workers, manufacturers of building supplies, health care workers, as well as at small and medium sized businesses where these workers and their families will spend their pay.

The grant will be awarded through HHS’s Facility Investment Program (FIP), which addresses pressing health center facility needs. The funds are the latest in a series of grants awarded to community health centers, which deliver preventive and primary care services to more than 17 million patients nationwide, regardless of their ability to pay.

Today’s $508.5 million awarded in Facility Investment Program grants to community health centers nationwide will address the pressing needs of health center facilities and expand their capacities to serve an additional 500,000 patients. These funds will also help health centers build new facilities, modernize current sites and create employment opportunities in underserved communities.

Recipients of FIP funds are expected to commit grant funds and complete the proposed projects within two years. The grants will cover two types of projects:

1. Alteration/renovation: This project type includes work required to modernize, improve or change the interior arrangements or other physical characteristics of an existing facility, and purchase/install equipment. Alterations and renovations make existing space usable for another purpose. This type of project does not increase square footage.

2. Construction (new site or expansion of existing site): This project type includes—(i) adding a new structure to an existing site that increases the total square footage of the facility; and (ii) permanently affixing structure (e.g., modular units, prefabricated buildings) to real property (i.e., land).

FIP grants, along with the entire health center program, are administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Of the 85 FIP grants announced by the White House today, the grant to Southwest Georgia Health Care, Inc. is one of only two grants awarded in the state of Georgia. The other went to Palmetto Health Council, Inc. in Palmetto.

HOUSE PASSES PERMANENT ESTATE TAX RELIEF FOR FAMILIES, FARMERS AND SMALL BUSINESS

Congressman Bishop voted in favor of H.R. 4154, which will spur job creation and enable small businesses, farmers, and American workers in Georgia’s Second Congressional District to keep more of their hard-earned wealth. The legislation will ensure that individual estates worth less than $3.5 million (or 99.8% of estates in the United States) will never pay a penny in estate tax.

“I have strongly supported a full repeal of the ‘death tax’ on the grounds that it is politically misguided, morally unjustified and downright un-American,” Bishop said. “The ‘death tax’ undermines the life work and the life savings of farmers and small- and medium-sized businesses in Georgia and across the nation. While I will continue to fight to fully repeal the death tax, I voted in favor of this bill because the alternative would have been far worse – uncertainty in future estate planning as well as a higher rate and a lower exemption amount in 2011.”

Without the legislation, the estate tax would be eliminated entirely in 2010. In 2011, however, the maximum estate tax rate would increase to 55% and would include a much lower exemption amount of $1 million per individual ($2 million per couple). At these levels, Congressman Bishop was concerned that many Georgia farmers would lose their farms that have been passed down from generation to generation or be forced to sell much needed land, buildings or equipment. In addition, he heard from small business owners who feared that the businesses they hope to hand down to their children will be destroyed by the higher estate tax levels.

“As the nation struggles to create jobs and emerge from recession, allowing the higher estate tax to go into effect in 2011 would have been irresponsible,” Bishop said. “I have heard from farmers, funeral home owners, newspaper publishers, radio station owners, and garment manufacturers about the need for estate tax relief. Their message has come through loud and clear.”

The legislation also included the provisions of H.R. 2920, the “Pay-As-You-Go” (PAYGO) principle, which requires Congress to ensure that new policies that increase spending or reduce revenues do not add to the federal budget deficit.

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