In March 2023 Congress passed the MOBILE Health Care Act (S. 958) in the fall of 2022. The bipartisan legislation will dramatically expand the ability of Community Health Centers to establish mobile clinics in rural areas and underserved communities. It allows health centers to utilize federal funds through the New Access Points Grants program to establish new, mobile health care delivery sites. There has been a 40 percent growth in health center mobile units since 2019, which has been essential expanding care beyond the brick-and-mortar walls of a traditional health care setting. Among the services that mobile health units bring to underserved communities are mammograms, dental, vaccinations, cancer screenings, telehealth, and much more. Our policy team created an explainer to answer questions about this new legislation.
Everything You Need to Know About the MOBILE Health Care Act
Now that the MOBILE Health Care Act (S. 958) has been signed into law, there have been questions about the bill: what it does, when it goes into effect, and how it impacts health centers. This document provides a brief overview of this new legislation which takes effect on January 1, 2024.
Brief History of Mobile Health Units and New Access Point Grants
Before this law, under HRSA policy, if a New Access Point (NAP) applicant (either an existing 330 grantee or a “new start” grantee organization) wanted to propose a project to purchase and operate a mobile health clinic as an in-scope site, the applicant would also have to propose a permanent brick-and-mortar site at the same time.
Summary of the Bill
During the 117th Congress, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) approached NACHC about supporting legislation to expand access to care through mobile health units. Under the new MOBILE Health Care Act, existing Section 330 grantees would be able to propose NAP projects solely for one or more new mobile health units, solely for one or more new permanent sites, or for projects that include both mobile health unit(s) and permanent sites(s) simultaneously. Because this legislation allows grantees to apply for NAP funds to support a mobile health unit without including a permanent site in the application, it provides much-needed operational flexibility. Thanks to the legislation, Section 330 grantees will no longer have to open a new permanent site if they wish to expand only through a mobile health unit(s).