U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) worked with Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) to introduce legislation with the goal of expanding access to quality health care for rural Americans across the country.
The Rural Health Innovation Act would incentivize communities to prioritize urgent care needs by providing numerous grant programs to these areas.
“Rural Tennessee communities know all too well that when hospitals close, they will be left without medical care when emergencies arise. Filling the rural health care gap must be a priority. With the support of Senator Hickenlooper, the Rural Health Innovation Act will employ a collaborative federal, state, and local approach to provide urgent care solutions for rural areas in the Volunteer State and across America,” Blackburn described in a statement.
The bill would direct the Health Resources and Services Administration to develop a grant program to assist areas in meeting their urgent care and triage needs. Specifically, the program would award $500,000 to existing facilities to expand their departments in areas that are located at least thirty minutes from the nearest emergency department.
“Health clinics and public health departments function as lifelines in rural communities. These providers regularly make the difference between life and death. We need to support them and give them the resources they need to improve health outcomes in our rural areas,” added Senator Hickenlooper.
Furthermore, communities that have lost a hospital in the past seven years will have priority when applying for the federal grant.
“The Rural Health Innovation Act of 2021 enables transformation in rural America by establishing grants so that rural providers such as Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers can expand provision of emergency health services. Emergency services are vital to rural communities and grants to help rural providers purchase equipment and pay essential staff will enhance health outcomes in our most rural communities,” said Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Health Association Alan Morgan.
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