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Rural VA medical centers to receive $215 million dollar boost

Grants will support the creation of programs enhancing primary care, mental health care, specialty care and other services in VA clinics.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Rural Health will give out $215 million in grants to 138 VA medical centers, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The money will also support about 800 rural providers as it helps 570,000 rural veterans get access to healthcare services.

The  grants will support the creation of programs enhancing primary care, mental health care, specialty care and other services in VA clinics where these were not previously available.

Meanwhile, the Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration is investing $36 million in health information technology for rural providers.

[Also: Veterans Affairs Health Care system tries experimental partnership with CVS to cure long wait times for urgent care]

The money is to help health centers beef up their IT capabilities and to train providers and staff to use the technology and gain access to data.

The administration is also investing $2 million to support critical access hospitals and rural health clinics. The funds are to implement programs like medication management to address chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

To help battle the opioid crisis, the Corporation for National and Community Service will provide up to 19 AmeriCorps program development grants to states and their governors' service commissions for addiction recovery.

Last year $220 million in National and Community Service funding was used to support 190,000 AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps members serve their rural neighbors by tutoring children, building or repairing homes, and providing meals.

[Also: Doctors, veterans ensnared in botched fix for VA health program]

Other federal initiatives include the new program, Healthy Places for Healthy People, to help communities use centrally located healthcare facilities to promote community development and active living. Communities interested in assistance are invited to apply by November 6.

The funding announcements were made Wednesday during a White House Rural Forum at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania. It was headed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, chair of the White House Rural Council, which was established by President Obama in 2011, and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

The share of rural Americans without health insurance is now at an all-time low, they said.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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