Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that USDA is investing $501 million in 60 projects to help improve health care infrastructure and services in rural communities nationwide, including a long-term care facility in Browning, Montana on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
“Creating strong and healthy communities is foundational to increasing prosperity in rural America,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural leaders to improve quality of life and economic development through modern and accessible health care.”
Hazlett made the announcement as part of USDA’s commemoration yesterday of National Rural Health Day, which is held annually on the third Thursday of November to focus on the specific health care issues facing rural communities. The Department is investing in 61 projects through the Community Facilities direct loan program. These investments will expand access to health care for approximately 2 million people in 34 states.
The Blackfeet Tribe is receiving an $8 million loan to help build a 39-bed, long-term-care facility on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana. This project is Phase I of a planned 47-bed facility. Phase II will be constructed at a future date. The new, 27,079-square-foot facility will replace a smaller one that is 47 years old. It will provide space for residents who are now in facilities that are more than 60 miles from the community. This project will benefit the approximately 7,000 members of the Blackfeet Nation who live on or near the Reservation.
Charles Robison is the Montana State Director for USDA Rural Development. “Facilities that allow Montanans to care for our elders in the communities they call home, those facilities are essential community infrastructure,” Robison said. “USDA is investing in rural businesses, rural housing, rural healthcare, rural elder care and basic community infrastructure across Montana. Projects like these are important to Montana because they leverage local resources to keep our communities livable for all generations. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue our partnership with the Blackfeet Nation in the Blackfeet Care Center.”
This funding announcement complements the finalization of a partnership between USDA and the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) to identify issues causing financial strain on rural hospitals, which are an important part of the rural health care system. NRHA and the Department will work together to identify management and financial indicators that impact rural hospital operations. This technical assistance will help rural hospitals continue to operate and provide critical health care services to serve rural communities.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs 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 areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.