NDN COVID-19 file

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) provided $6,924,599 to 140 rural health clinics in Nebraska for COVID-19 testing.

Nationally, $225 million was awarded to more than 4,500 rural health clinics across the country to support COVID-19 testing efforts and expand access to testing in rural communities, according to a press release issued Wednesday.

Rural health clinics (RHCs) are a special designation given to health care practices in underserved rural areas by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that help ensure access to care for rural residents.

This funding is through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that President Donald Trump signed into law on April 24, which specifically directed these funds to be allocated to rural health clinics.

HRSA funded rural health clinic organizations based on the number of certified clinic sites they operate, providing nearly $50,000 per clinic site.

“Today’s funding provides rural health clinics with resources and flexibility to boost their testing capabilities to fight COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Further expanding testing capacity, including at RHCs, is a crucial element of safely reopening our country and helping Americans return to work and school. A safe reopening is vital for Americans’ health and well-being, and especially so for those living in rural areas, who may have struggled with access to health care long before COVID-19 and found care even harder to access during this crisis.”

The funding may be used for a wide range of COVID-19 testing and related expenses including planning for implementation of a COVID-19 testing program, procuring supplies to provide testing, training providers and staff on COVID-19 testing procedures, and reporting data to HHS on COVID-19 testing activities, said Tom Engels, HRSA administrator.

“Funds may also be used for building or construction of temporary structures, leasing of properties and retrofitting facilities as necessary to support COVID-19 response,” Engels said.

HRSA is also awarding $500,000 to support technical assistance efforts to the RHCs as they expand testing capabilities. This includes activities such as conducting webinars, providing resources and guidance for implementation and management of testing programs.

To view a comprehensive state-by-state breakdown of this funding, visit https://bit.ly/2ZjUgHM

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