In recent weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services announced several funding programs first authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The sweeping legislation made investments in several local health sectors owned and operated by counties to build capacity to develop and implement COVID-19 mitigation and vaccination programs. Funding announced in June, as summarized below, will be directed towards rural health clinics, organizations supporting underserved communities, the uninsured, and reinforcement of the public health informatics and technology workforce.
On June 11, HHS announced it would distribute $424.7 million in funding to 4,247 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) for COVID-19 testing and mitigation. RHCs, each of which will receive $100,000, will use the funds to increase and expand access to COVID-19 testing and expand community-specific efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The state-by-state breakdown of funding can be seen here.
Additionally, HHS announced on June 14 that it would award $125 million through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to 14 nonprofit, private or public organizations to support underserved communities in all 50 states. The funds, which will be disbursed in July, will be used to develop and maintain a community-based workforce to assist local efforts to increase vaccine confidence and vaccinations in underserved communities. The recipients and the locations they serve can be found here.
On June 17, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced it had paid over 5 million claims through the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program to health care providers for administering COVID-19 vaccines to uninsured individuals. HRSA’s Uninsured Program allows people without health insurance to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as testing and treatment, for free by reimbursing providers for administering the vaccine. Additionally, HRSA’s COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund covers the costs of COVID-19 vaccines for people with health insurance plans that either do not cover vaccination costs or cover them with patient cost-sharing.
HHS also announced on June 17 that it would use $80 million of ARP to establish the Public Health Informatics & Technology Workforce Development Program (PHIT Workforce Program) to improve U.S. public health informatics and data science. The PHIT Workforce Program will train more than 4,000 people over four years in public health informatics and technology. Through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, HHS will award up to $75 million to cooperative agreement recipients. Applications for the program are due on August 11, 2021.
NACo will continue to monitor and report on new funding releases relevant to counties for programs authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act.