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Hickenlooper, Blackburn Lead Bipartisan Bill to Bolster Rural Health Care

Mar 23, 2023

Rural Health Innovation Act establishes a grant program for rural health providers to increase staffing, hours, critical technology, and equipment

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Marsha Blackburn introduced the Rural Health Innovation Act, a bill that would increase access to health care in rural and underserved communities across the country.

Health centers in rural areas face unique obstacles – geographic isolation, workforce shortages, issues with workforce retention, lack of broadband access, and limited access to medical equipment and technology – which contribute to a higher mortality rate in underserved communities nationwide. Extreme pressure on rural health centers during the pandemic only exacerbated this rural health gap.

“Rural health clinics mean the difference between life and death in remote Colorado communities. From transporting patients a hundred miles to the nearest hospital, to lifesaving primary care – health clinics are vital.” said Hickenlooper. “This bill gets those clinics the staff, technology, and equipment they need to continue saving lives.”

“The National Rural Health Association applauds Senators Marsha Blackburn and John Hickenlooper for their work to innovate and enhance rural health care. The Rural Health Innovation Act enables critical transformation in rural America to expand the provision of emergency health services vital to rural communities. This program will help rural providers purchase equipment and pay essential staff to enhance health outcomes in rural areas throughout the country,” said Alan Morgan, Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Health Association.

This bipartisan legislation would establish two competitive federal grant programs to bolster rural health centers. 

The first program would allocate funding to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) or Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) to better provide for the community’s urgent care needs. The second grant program would allocate funding to rural public health departments to expand to meet urgent care and triage needs.

Together, the two grant programs work to close the gap in rural health care and give rural health centers the dependable funding they need for long-term financial stability.

Full text of the bill can be found HERE.


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