The Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration, is awarding rural hospitals and telehealth resource centers nearly $165 million to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds will go to 1,779 small rural hospitals and will provide additional funding to 14 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)-funded Telehealth Resource Centers to provide technical assistance. The amount per hospital varies between hospitals and state-to-state.
The 14 telehealth centers are getting more than $11.5 million from the CARES Act to provide expertise and customized telehealth technical assistance while also acting as a clearinghouse for telehealth research, program design and implementation.
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WHY THIS MATTERS
The money targets smaller, rural hospitals and is separate from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act provider-relief fund.
An estimated $30 billion in the CARES Act was recently distributed to hospitals nationwide.
The CARES Act funding allows hospitals maximum flexibility in how they respond to COVID-19 within their communities, including the provision of testing and laboratory services and the purchase of personal protective equipment to minimize COVID-19 exposure.
The money also builds on the expansion of telehealth, which has increased under the coronavirus pandemic as the government gives greater flexibility and reimbursement for its use.
THE LARGER TREND
HRSA's Federal Office of Rural Health Policy received $150 million through the CARES Act to assist hospitals funded through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program respond to this public health emergency.
ON THE RECORD
"Today's funding gives rural hospitals critical support to build up their capacity for fighting COVID-19 in their communities, including through further expansions of telehealth, more purchases of PPE, and boosting testing capacity," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "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."
"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," said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels. "Providing the TRCs with this additional funding enables them to expand their ability to provide technical assistance to communities in need."
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