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This background paper examines the dominant model of federal grant funding for primary care in the health care safety net: the community health center. It describes the history of the health center program and highlights key policy issues influencing health centers, such as Medicaid payment policies and medically underserved area designations. The paper also examines the recent presidential initiative to expand health centers, including a review of the process used to identify new grantees, an assessment of remaining gaps in capacity, an exploration of continuing challenges, and a discussion of unresolved policy questions.

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