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Underserved and rural communities now have access to millions of dollars for health care

$100 million in federal funding is now available to help underserved and rural communities hire...
$100 million in federal funding is now available to help underserved and rural communities hire and retain medical workers.(Gray DC)
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 9:32 AM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Lack of access to quality health care is often a symptom of living in a rural or underserved community.

Martin Luther King Junior Avenue is located on the southeast side of Washington, D.C. east of the Anacostia River. In this area there is only one hospital compared to six hospitals on the other side of the city.

Sheila Brockington, the Community Relations Director of the Family and Medical Counseling Service, works in this community.

“Access to care can be lack of transportation for many individuals,” says Brockington.

The Family and Medical Counseling Service provides primary and pediatric care, as well as mental health services.

During a sit-down interview with the Gray Television Washington News Bureau, reporter Nicole Neuman asked Brockington how the need for quality health care had changed since the facility’s opening nearly 50 years ago.

“It’s changed because the community changes,” she said. “Before, east of the river didn’t have the service that was needed. We still don’t have obstetricians, maternal care east of the river, like we should. We didn’t have enough ophthalmologists east of the river. So, it was lack of professionals coming to east of the river to provide the care.”

To help ease this burden in underserved and rural communities across the nation, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra says his department is offering $100 million in funding.

“The $100 million will be available to every state to apply for, including the District of Columbia, to try and make sure they are taking care of their health care workers,” said Becerra.

Becerra says the funding, which is part of the American Rescue Plan, can be used for recruiting, pay checks, or giving health care workers more time off.

The funding includes what the department calls “two key flexibilities.” The first is a no-cost sharing requirement, meaning states won’t have to provide a “specific matching amount to be awarded.” The second is states can use up to 10% of their award for administrative costs to administer programs.

“You have to have a strong application, because I guarantee you, throughout the country, there are many places that can use these dollars,” says Becerra.

States have until April 2022 to apply.

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