HRSA Health Centers to Get $1B for Telehealth, Other Upgrades

The Biden Administration is awarding nearly $1 billion in American Rescue Plan funding through the HRSA to about 1,300 health centers across the country for capital improvements, including telehealth expansion.

By Eric Wicklund

September 28, 2021 – The Biden Administration is shelling out almost $1 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to health centers in every state to support a wide range of projects, including telehealth expansion.

In all, $954,255,430 will be awarded through the Health and Human Services Department’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support capital improvement projects at 1,292 Health Center Program-funded sites In every state as well as Washington DC and US territories.

Alongside telehealth services, the money is earmarked for COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination and advancing health equity initiatives in underserved regions.

“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 press release issued this morning. “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.”

Officials said the money is earmarked for health centers that serve medically underserved and other vulnerable populations and communities, many of which have been hit hard by the pandemic and have struggled to maintain access to healthcare services.

While the federal government is putting a lot of rescue plan money into these health centers and other sites that target underserved populations, critics have pointed out that the funding will help them set up connected health programs but it won’t assure their sustainability.

Telehealth advocates are lobbying the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to improve coverage for and access to telehealth and remote patient monitoring services through the proposed 2022 Physician Fee Schedule. And Congress is under pressure to enact a long-term telehealth policy that supports continued adoption and expansion past the public health emergency put into place for the pandemic.