Biden-Harris administration helps expand access to rural health care; including $1 million in Alturas

U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced the 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.

A $1 million rural development investment will be used to purchase equipment to support rural health care services arising from the COVID-19 emergency for the Last Frontier health care District (in Alturas, Modoc County, California. LFHCD operates an eight-bed acute care facility, two rural health clinics, a retail pharmacy and a 50- bed skilled nursing facility. In addition, LFHCD provides outpatient services at its two medical clinics, one at the Alturas location and the other in Canby. The district also has a dental clinic at the Canby location. The need for these services has greatly increased due to the conditions arising for the COVID-19 emergency and this project will help support rural patient services.

“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 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 will help regional partnerships, public bodies, nonprofits and Tribes solve regional rural health care challenges. These solutions will build a stronger, more sustainable rural health care system for the nation’s small towns and communities.

For example, in the Midwest, Southern Illinois Hospital Services is partnering with local health care organizations to build an in-patient psychiatric unit to address a regional need to expand access to mental health care services for people living in Southern Illinois.

The investments will help people in the West benefit from state-of-the art medical equipment that will enhance their access to quality health care.

Gunnison County in Colorado is purchasing medical equipment for a new facility that will serve more than 5,000 people.

In California, Tule River Indian Health Center Inc. is purchasing a generator, freezers and refrigerators that will protect medical equipment during emergencies to continue providing health care services for people living on the Tule River Reservation.

The investments will improve health outcomes for people in rural communities by improving access to healthy foods in the Northeast.

In Delaware, Milton Community Food Pantry Inc. is purchasing a storage and distribution facility to provide fresh foods to families, senior citizens, veterans and people with disabilities.

In Massachusetts, Community Action Pioneer Valley Inc. is purchasing equipment for its food pantry to provide free food and nutritious meals to senior citizens and people with disabilities.

In the South, people in rural areas will benefit from new, state-of-the-art medical facilities. For instance, Pancare of Florida Inc. is building a primary care clinic as part of its regional health care center. The clinic will help people living in rural and underserved communities in Northwest Florida access quality health care services.

Torres Small announced the awards today at the University of Virginia. USDA is providing a grant to the university’s Virginia Consortium to Advance Healthcare in Appalachia, a not-for-profit group that will use the funds to expand access to health care and telemedicine in Wise County. The funding will also help the group expand regional networks for resource sharing, training, education and communications. This group will also develop a blueprint for addressing pandemic emergency chronic illnesses and enhancing the long-term sustainability of rural health care.

The investments USDA is announcing will also expand health care services in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Puerto Rico.

This funding is made possible by President Biden’s historic legislative package, the American Rescue Plan Act. The act and this program are examples of the government’s ability to respond quickly to ensure every person and family has access to high-quality health care.

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.

About the USDA
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.usda.gov.