The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said nearly $165 million has been earmarked to help rural communities combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding allotment via the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) seeks to assist 1,779 rural hospitals while providing additional funding to 14 HRSA-funded Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) to provide technical assistance on telehealth.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said the funds enable rural hospitals to bolster their capacity to fight COVID-19 in their communities, including through further expansions of telehealth, more purchases of PPE, and boosting testing capacity.
“This funding, secured by President Trump from Congress, will build on the historic expansion of telehealth undertaken by the Trump Administration to help all Americans access the care they need during the pandemic,” he said.
Authorities noted the HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) received $150 million through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to assist hospitals funded through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) in response to the public health emergency.
“As the nation combats COVID-19, telehealth is increasingly instrumental and effective as a tool to provide healthcare for patients across the country, especially the most vulnerable,” HRSA Administrator Tom Engels said. “Providing the TRCs with this additional funding enables them to expand their ability to provide technical assistance to communities in need.”