Health

HHS awards nearly $1B to 1,300 health centers to support renovation, health equity

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded nearly $1 billion to 1,292 health centers across the U.S. and its territories for construction and renovation projects.

The funds were supplied via the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act and awarded through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). HHS said it expects the money to strengthen the country’s overall healthcare infrastructure and promote health equity among medically underserved communities.

“Health centers are lifelines for many of our most vulnerable families across the country, especially amidst the pandemic,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “Thanks to American Rescue Plan funds, we’re modernizing facilities across the country to better meet the most pressing public health challenges associated with COVID-19. This historic investment means we get to expand access to care for COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination—all with an eye towards advancing equity.”

Health centers receiving the money are funded by HRSA and treat patient populations that are medically underserved or otherwise vulnerable, groups that the administration noted are facing greater strain due to COVID-19.

According to HHS, those centers “will use this funding for COVID-19-related capital needs, constructing new facilities, renovating and expanding existing facilities to enhance response to pandemics and purchasing new state-of-the-art equipment, including telehealth technology, mobile medical vans and freezers to store vaccines.”

RELATED: HHS releases $25.5B in COVID-19 relief funding targeted at smaller providers

The awards, which total roughly $954 million, provide up to seven figures to individual HRSA-funded organizations.

California healthcare organizations will see the most support, with the state slated to receive more than $139 million across 166 individual awards. This was followed by New York’s $54 million across 62 organizations, Texas’ nearly $50 million across 66 organizations and Florida’s nearly $40 million across 45 organizations.

“HRSA-funded health centers play a vital role in the local community response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” HRSA acting Administrator Diana Espinosa said in a statement. “Investing in health center construction and modernization will significantly increase access to affordable, high-quality primary health care services in underserved communities across the nation.”

The funding announcement comes shortly after the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT awarded $73 million from the American Rescue Plan to 10 higher education and minority-serving institutions for public health information technology workforce initiatives. The administration had previously slated $7.4 billion from the stimulus act toward expanding the broader public health workforce back in May.

Earlier this month also saw HHS release $25.5 billion in long-awaited provider relief funding, which included $8.5 billion in resources from the American Rescue Plan Act and another $17 billion from the $178 billion pot passed last year as part of the CARES Act. Those funds are set to reimburse pandemic expenses for smaller providers and those serving a disproportionate amount of Medicaid or Medicare patients.

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