HHS to give $424M to rural health clinics for COVID-19 tests, mitigation strategies

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $424.7 million in funding to more than 4,200 rural health clinics for COVID-19 tests and efforts to mitigate the virus.

The funding, released Friday, is part of a larger effort by the Biden administration to address equity gaps in healthcare.

“Today’s funding will make it possible for more rural residents to access COVID-19 testing and will support and empower local community responses to COVID-19 so we can turn the tide on this public health emergency,” said Diana Espinosa, acting administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which is distributing the funds.

HRSA will distribute the money to rural health clinics based on the number of sites they operate, with $100,000 going to each site. The clinics, which get a special federal designation to provide healthcare practices in underserved rural areas, will use the funds in a number of ways that include increasing the supply of COVID-19 tests.

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The money will also be used by clinics to tailor mitigation strategies that could include promoting good hygiene behaviors.

The funding comes from a $460 million pot approved as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

HRSA will distribute another $35.3 million to more rural health clinics later this summer that meet eligibility requirements.

The funding is part of a larger effort by the Biden administration to address racial and healthcare equity gaps and help areas where COVID-19 is still spreading.

Last month, HHS gave community-based organizations $250 million to help distribute COVID-19 vaccines to medically underserved areas including rural communities. The funding went toward hiring workers and specialists to conduct outreach and education to assist individuals in getting information on vaccinations.