Biden-Harris Administration Helps Expand Access to Rural Health Care Through Investing in America Agenda
AMHERST. MA, July 25, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced that USDA is expanding access to health care for more than 5 million people living in 39 states and Puerto Rico as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.
“During one of the most critical times in our nation’s history, the Biden-Harris Administration responded to deliver immediate economic relief and ensure rural people have access to quality health care,” Deputy Secretary Torres Small said. “USDA’s Emergency Rural Health Care Grants (ERHC) are helping strengthen rural America’s health care infrastructure to build for the future.”
USDA is awarding $129 million in Emergency Rural Health Care Grants to improve health care facilities in rural towns across the nation. These grants will help 172 rural health care organizations expand critical services.
“Today’s investments include almost $3.7 million in grants that are providing critical support across Southern New England through towns and organizations who are addressing regional rural health care needs,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Southern New England Scott J. Soares. “These historic investments will build a stronger, more sustainable and resilient rural health care system for folks in Southern New England.”
This announcement in includes awards in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and follows on early ERHC awards that have been made in Connecticut.
The Center for Self-Reliance in Greenfield, MA will use a $1,000,000 grant to reduce barriers to access food and provide assistance for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Funding will ensure a suitable location for food pantry operations, in which they will provide free, nutritious food.
Organizations like Cape Cod Village Inc. in Orleans, MA and Volunteers in Medicine-Berkshire Inc., Great Barrington, MA will benefit by the EHRC funding by reimbursing healthcare revenue losses during the pandemic and prepare for future healthcare crisis.
A grant in the amount of $71,200 grant will allow Cape Cod Village Inc. to meet the immediate health care needs of their 16-unit residential community for individuals with severe autism, help prepare for a future pandemic event, and increase access to quality health care services and improve community health outcomes. While an award of $103,075 to Volunteers in Medicine-Berkshire Inc. will enhance clinic infrastructure and provide medical services, including COVID-19 testing, to uninsured and underinsured adults in the rural Berkshire region.
In rural communities throughout CT, MA, and RI, it is increasingly difficult for ambulance services to respond to emergencies due to an aging fleet of vehicles. ERHC awards will provide needed ambulances which are equipped with the latest modern equipment.
Among the towns benefitting from increased ambulance capacity are the town of Athol, MA that is receiving $835,342 in grants and were able to purchase two ambulances along with a fire department water pump truck.
Claremont, MA will utilize a $48,215 grant to purchase one ambulance and Northfield, MA will use $146,937 grant to purchase and outfit an ambulance,
Rural communities in Bernardston, MA, Southbridge MA and Tiverton, RI will also benefit from EHRC grants to support their town Emergency management systems. A $913,399 grant will allow the town of Southbridge to purchase new equipment for the town's Emergency Operations Center. Bernardston’s $74,411 in grant funds will be used to purchase nine Emergency Medical Services Radio Repeaters for the fire and law enforcement first responder personnel. And Tiverton will use the $505,348 ERHC investment to buy and install mobile communication equipment and create an emergency medical communication network.
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. 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 August 2021, USDA made the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants available through the American Rescue Plan Act 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.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal, and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit the GovDelivery subscriber page.
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.rd.usda.gov/ct-ma-ri.
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