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HELENA – Fourteen community health centers across Montana are receiving $3 million in federal grants this year to expand their services for low-income consumers.

The grants will enable the 14 centers to hire about 42 new staffers, stay open for longer hours and reach an estimated 7,300 new patients, federal officials said.

For example, the Bighorn Valley Health Center in Hardin will be hiring a new registered nurse and nurse practitioner, and the Bullhook Community Health Center in Havre will open a new pharmacy, expand its hours to evenings and on Saturday, and hire a new provider, such as a nurse practitioner.

Community health centers offer services at prices on a sliding scale, tied to one’s ability to pay.

The grants, announced earlier this month, range from $191,000 to $257,000 for each clinic. The grants go to clinics in Billings, Missoula, Butte, Helena, Kalispell, Great Falls, Libby, Superior, Hardin, Livingston, Ashland, Havre and Cut Bank.

The grants are part of the 2010 federal health care overhaul, which has spent billions of dollars expanding low-income health clinics across the country.

“Health centers are a key part of how the Affordable Care Act is working to improve access to care for millions of Americans,” said Sylvia Burwell, U.S. Health and Human Services secretary.

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