Additional $1.3 million for County Health Will, Somehow, Create 40 Jobs

By Beacon Staff

Another day, another influx of millions of federal dollars to Montana: The latest release comes from Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, who announced that they secured a $1.3 million grant for the Flathead City County Health Department in Kalispell. The release notes that the $1.3 million is in addition to the $626 million already headed to the state from the economic stimulus, or its proper title, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Although the release states that President Barack Obama said these funds will create 40 new health care jobs, that’s all it says, which immediately raises a lot of questions. How will $1.3 million create 40 jobs? What are these jobs? How will these jobs be funded next year, or the year after, or whenever the stimulus cash is no longer there? There’s no detail in the release. Critics of the stimulus are already raising these questions loud and clear, but for now, it seems just impossible to tell whether these job creation claims are realistic.

As these funds actually make their way into the local economy, it may become more clear how “x” amount of dollars given to government agency “y” does or doesn’t create jobs, and how long those jobs will exist, but until then, we’ll just wait for the next announcement of millions of dollars and experience for ourselves how the results on the ground here in Montana really turn out.

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Dozens of new jobs will boost the Flathead Valley, thanks to $1.3 million in funding announced today by President Barack Obama and Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester.

President Obama says the money, which will go to the Flathead City County Health Department in Kalispell, will create 40 new jobs. The funding is part of the Jobs Bill, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The $1.3 million announced today is in addition to the nearly $626 million Montana is already receiving from the Jobs Bill.

“We have acted quickly to put Recovery Act dollars to good use in communities across America,” President Obama said in a statement. “The construction and expansion of health centers will help create thousands of new jobs and provide critical assistance to Americans who have lost their job and their health care. Health centers, primary care, and prevention are at the heart of my plan for an affordable, accessible health care system.”

Both Baucus and Tester played key roles in writing and passing the Jobs Bill last month.

“This is a much-needed shot in the arm for the economy and for health care in the Flathead Valley,” said Baucus, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. “These dollars are right in line with two of my biggest priorities—creating good-paying jobs in Montana and improving access to quality, affordable health care.”

“The Jobs Bill is already going to work in Montana rebuilding our economy from the ground up by putting folks back to work—especially in a part of the state hit hard by an economy we inherited after eight years of failed policies,” said Tester, a member of the influential Senate Appropriations Committee who met recently with Flathead area residents in Kalispell. “I was proud to vote for the Jobs Bill, and I appreciated the opportunity to look folks in the eye and tell them why. This is one reason why.”

The $1.3 million grant will come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration.

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