HHS tags $32M for rural healthcare programs
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has granted more than $32 million in fiscal year 2010 funds to increase access to healthcare for Americans living in rural areas.

The funds span seven programs administered by the Office of Rural Health Policy in HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). 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 critical access hospitals, efforts to improve the hospitals’ financial and operating performance and the development of collaborative regional and local delivery systems.
  • More than $3 million for the Rural Health Workforce Development Program, a one-time pilot program to support development of rural health networks that seek to improve the recruitment and retention of emerging health professionals (primary and allied healthcare students and residents) in rural communities. The program will promote a range of approaches to community-based training and can include a singular or collective focus on professions such as medicine, oral health, mental/behavioral health, nursing, pharmacy and other allied health professions.
  • 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 provide technical assistance 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 that will help eligible entities coordinate innovative approaches, collaborative networks and virtual linkages to provide rural veterans and other rural residents access to mental health and other health care services. The grants aim to improve mental health services through the use of health information exchange and telehealth in states where veterans make up a high percentage of the total population.
  • $770,000 for the Frontier Community Health Integration Demonstration Program to develop and test new models for the delivery of healthcare services in frontier areas by improving access to care and the integration of care delivery to Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Almost $500,000 to the Rural Training Track Technical Assistance Demonstration Program, which will analyze the challenges and barriers facing Rural Training Track (RTT) residency program sites and then provide technical assistance to increase the number of family medicine physicians that choose to take part in these rural residencies. RTT sites have a successful record of placing graduates in rural locations, with 75 percent of their graduates remaining to practice in rural settings.

Lists of awards from HRSA’s 2010 appropriation are available here.