(FiveNation.com)- The White House announced on Friday that it will be allocating billions of dollars in funding for hospitals in rural communities to better address coronavirus. The $500 million in funding will be allocated through the Department of Agriculture and would be used to create the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program. Most of that money will be used to assist rural hospitals and boost both COVID testing and vaccination programs. The program will also provide over $100 million in grants to ensure rural health care providers are more viable in the long term.
As part of the American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden in March, the Department of Health and Human Services is allocating another $8.5 billion to pay rural health care providers who offer Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) services. This money is provided to compensate for lost revenue during the pandemic lockdowns.
In a statement released Friday, the White House said that these funds are designed to ensure providers are able to effectively respond to the coronavirus pandemic as well as place them on more stable financial footing to “continue serving their communities into the future.”
The White House is also taking other steps as well, including expanding telehealth access for Americans living in rural communities, bolstering Veterans Affairs training programs among health care providers in rural areas, and allocating $52 million to train health care workers to fill professions currently lacking staff due to the pandemic.
Experts claim that among the reasons rural communities have been hit especially hard during the pandemic was the lack of proximity and access to health care facilities as well as the lack of testing and vaccination sites.
Previously the White House announced that another $100 million in funding would be directed toward rural health clinics to bolster their vaccine outreach.
It was reported in June 2020 that, as a result of the pandemic lockdowns that forced hospitals and health care facilities to scale back provided service, more than 1.5 million healthcare jobs were lost from February to April 2020.