Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Funding to Support Rural Health

More than $32 million in FY 2010 funds to go to rural areas was announced by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The funds reach across seven programs administered by HRSA’s Office of Rural Health Policy.

“The grants will strengthen partnerships among rural health providers,” said HRSA Administrator Dr. Mary Wakefield Ph.D., R.N. “The funds will be used to recruit and retain rural healthcare professionals and to modernize the healthcare infrastructure in rural areas.”

Funding for the seven programs includes:

• More than $22 million for the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program to support improvements in healthcare quality in communities served by CAHs. The funding will help improve the hospitals financial and operating performance and help develop collaborative regional and local delivery systems

• More than $3 million for the Rural Health Workforce Development Program, a new one-time pilot program to support rural health networks that want to improve the recruitment and retention of emerging health professionals

• More than $2 million for the Telehealth Network Grant Program to help communities build capacity to develop sustainable telehealth programs and networks

• More than $1 million for the Telehealth Resources Center Grant Program to help healthcare organizations, networks, and providers implement cost-effective telehealth programs serving rural and medically underserved areas and populations

• Close to $1 million for the Flex Rural Veterans Health Access Program, a new program to help coordinate approaches, collaborative networks, and provide virtual linkages to rural veterans and other residents to obtain mental health and other healthcare services

• $770,000 for the Frontier Community Health Integration Demonstration Program to help develop and test new models for the delivery of healthcare services in frontier areas by providing care to Medicare beneficiaries

• Almost $500,000 to the Rural Training Track Technical Assistance Demonstration Program to analyze the challenges and barriers facing Rural Training Track residency program sites in order to increase the number of family medicine physicians

HRSA’s Office of Rural Health Policy is also seeking applications for the “Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant Program” or referred to as “Network Planning Grants.” The purpose of the grant program is to bring together key parts of a rural healthcare delivery system so that they can work together to establish or improve local capacity and to be able to coordinate care.

The major focus of the funding is to support rural entities and help them develop healthcare networks. Understanding a community’s health needs through a community assessment is an important step in building a network. If a network can understand and define the key needs of the community and its healthcare providers, it is well-positioned to provide solutions and offer benefits to the community and its providers.

The application due date is October 8, 2010. The approximate amount of funding anticipated is $1,150,000 with the maximum award request for the year to be $85,000 with 15 awards anticipated. The grants are to be funded with FY 2011 appropriations, pending the availability of funds.

The lead applicant organization must be a rural, non-profit or public entity representing a consortium/network of three or more healthcare providers that need assistance to plan, organize, and develop a healthcare network. For-profit or urban based organizations are not eligible to be the lead applicant but can participate in the network.

For more information go to www.grants.gov or email Eileen Holloran, Program Coordinator, Office of Rural Health Policy at eholloran@hrsa.gov or call (301) 443-7529.