WASHINGTON, April 13, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the establishment of a program under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to expand rural hospitals and providers’ access to COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and supplies, while helping rural health care providers stay financially solvent in the long-term. The initial awards of the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants total $43 million and will benefit 2.2 million people (PDF, 290 KB) who live and work in rural America. Awardees include 93 rural health care organizations and community groups across 22 states, including three projects in Washington State.
This announcement is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Rural Infrastructure Tour, a multi-faceted outreach effort involving cabinet and sub-cabinet officials across federal agencies as they travel to and learn from rural communities across the country.
“Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA mobilized our staff and resources to respond in record time to improve the long-term viability of rural health care providers and services across this nation,” Vilsack said. “USDA used an all-hands-on-deck approach to create the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants program to address a variety of immediate health care needs and services in rural communities. The American Rescue Plan Act and this program are examples of the government’s ability to respond quickly to ensure every person and family has access to high-quality health care no matter their zip code.”
The Biden-Harris Administration made these funds available through its historic legislative package, the American Rescue Plan Act. Within months after the Act’s passage, USDA responded quickly by making this funding available to ensure the long-term availability of rural health care services. In total, the program will use up to $475 million in grants provided by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to expand rural hospitals and providers. Additional awards will be announced in the coming months.
The grants USDA is awarding will help rural hospitals and health care providers implement telehealth and nutrition assistance programs, increase staffing to administer COVID-19 vaccines and testing, build or renovate facilities and purchase medical supplies.
For example, in Washington State:
- Public Hospital District #1 of Klickitat County will use a $673,100 grant to renovate the existing space related to food preparation and service at the hospital. The renovation will provide for two additional workstations, streamline the checkout, replace the salad bar with a sandwich prep table; install a walk-in cooler, walk -in freezer, and additional dry storage.
- Columbia County Public Hospital will use an $840,000 grant to construct two airborne infection isolation rooms with direct access to the outside, and an interlinking hallway between the acute floor and the hall of the Booker Rest Home Annex.
- Lewis County Fire District #3 will use a $203,500 grant to purchase an ambulance and associated equipment, which will enhance the Fire District's ability to service the community of Mossyrock and surrounding area through distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations, COVID-19 testing, and implementation of the Community Health Triage Program.
"This is a significant investment for deserving areas in Washington State," said Helen Price Johnson, Washington State Director. "These grants are being used in ways that will continue to save lives, support, jobs, and strengthen our rural communities."
USDA will announce additional awardees for Emergency Rural Health Care Grants in the coming weeks and months.
Background: Emergency Rural Health Care Grants
Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021 to deliver immediate economic relief to people impacted by the pandemic. In August 2021, USDA made the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants available through the American Rescue Plan to help rural health care facilities, tribes and communities expand access to health care services and nutrition assistance. The assistance is helping provide immediate relief to support rural hospitals, health care clinics and local communities. USDA is administering the funds through Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program.
Background: Rural Infrastructure Tour
Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA and its federal partners in the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force are working with rural communities to deliver on the promise of support for rural America. The Rural Infrastructure Tour is a multi-faceted outreach effort involving cabinet and sub-cabinet officials across federal agencies as they travel to and learn from rural communities across the country. These visits will highlight new federal funding and investments already underway through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a once-in-a-generation investment that will support rural communities and their infrastructure needs.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.