Along with having access to funds, rural providers can join a new program to receive vaccines directly from the federal government.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has announced the upcoming distribution of nearly $1 billion in federal funding for rural healthcare providers to use in COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination efforts.
The funding was authorized by the COVID-19 relief legislation known as the American Rescue Plan. The allocation is as follows:
- $460 million through the Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Program for more than 4,600 rural health clinics (RHCs) to maintain and increase COVID-19 testing, expand access to testing for rural residents and broaden efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus in ways tailored to their local communities
- $398 million for existing grantees of the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program to work with approximately 1,730 small rural hospitals — those with fewer than 50 beds — and critical access hospitals on COVID-19 testing and mitigation
- $100 million for RHCs that apply through the Rural Health Vaccine Confidence Program to use to offer support and resources to medically underserved rural communities where COVID-19 vaccine uptake lags compared with more populated areas
In addition, Medicare-certified RHCs are invited to join the new Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Program to receive vaccines directly from the Biden administration and separately from their jurisdiction’s weekly allocation.