Everyone benefits when we’re all healthy and well-cared for. The Democrats have worked hard to address both the shortages and inequities in rural childcare, healthcare, and issues created by the Covid-19 pandemic
The President secured $39 billion in the American Rescue Plan to lower child care costs and provide financial support to child care providers. This funding has already reached more than 150,000 child care providers, including those across rural America. The American Rescue Plan also provided funding to all 1,600 Head Start grantees, which serve the vast majority of rural counties and sometimes serve as the only provider in a rural community. The President has also called on Congress to cut child care spending in half for most families, offer every 3- and 4-year old free preschool, and boost the number of high-quality child care programs in high-need areas, including in rural America.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the difficulties faced by rural communities in health care infrastructure and clinicians. The Democrats have provided a full package of Covid mitigation and recovery projects as well as working to fix the issues in rural health care access and delivery.
The American Rescue Plan surged $130 billion to our states, territories, tribes, and local communities to help them safely reopen our schools and keep them open, while addressing the impacts of the pandemic on students, including on their learning and mental health. Roughly $16 billion of these funds went to rural communities.
The American Rescue Plan funded COVID-19 testing and mitigation in 4,200 rural health clinics, and $398 million in funding to support COVID-19 testing and mitigation for over 1,500 small rural hospitals. HHS provided up to $100,000 per clinic and up to $230,000 per hospital to increase COVID-19 testing, expand access to testing in rural communities.
The American Rescue Plan provided $500 million for USDA to create the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program. The program provided $350 million to help rural hospitals and local communities increase access to COVID-19 vaccines and testing, medical supplies, telehealth, and food assistance, and support the construction or renovation of rural health care facilities. It also provides recovery funds that compensate for lost revenue or staffing expenses due to COVID-19.
Rural communities face persistent disparities in health outcomes and access to care, including higher rates of uninsured individuals, health care workforce shortages, and difficulty reaching the nearest hospital. The Biden Administration is taking action to improve the health of rural communities by ensuring rural Americans have the health care and coverage they need and deserve and helping rural hospitals stay open.
The American Rescue Plan has done more to lower costs and expand access to health care than any action since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. It has made quality coverage more affordable than ever—with families saving an average of $2,400 on their annual premiums, and four out of five consumers finding quality coverage for under $10 a month.
Expand rural health care coverage and keep rural hospitals open. Since President Biden took office, nearly 700,000 rural Americans have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act and the American Rescue Plan. Closing this coverage gap is estimated to reduce the risk of rural hospital closure by 62%. Furthermore, HHS will establish a new provider type, Rural Emergency Hospitals, which will allow facilities to offer emergency department services, observation care, and/or outpatient services in rural areas.
The American Rescue Plan provided $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to help compensate health care providers who serve rural Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) patients for lost revenue and increased expenses associated with COVID-19 so they can remain financially viable and continue serving their communities into the future.
The Administration made a historic $1.5 billion investment, including $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan, in its health workforce loan repayment and scholarship programs. More than 22,700 primary care clinicians funded by these programs now serve in underserved communities, including rural and tribal communities—the largest number ever.
HHS is also making $48 million from the American Rescue Plan available to expand public health capacity in rural and tribal communities through health care job development, training, and placement. This will increase the number of well-trained health care professionals and connect them with future employers, including hospitals and clinics in rural areas.
The Biden-Harris Administration has issued several telehealth supports including research conducted by NIH; funding for broadband, smart phones and internet connectivity; and an expansion of eligible services that can be delivered via telehealth, including a new rule that expands access to tele-mental health services for Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare will also now pay for mental health visits furnished via telehealth when they are provided by Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers. This policy expands access to Medicare beneficiaries, especially those living in rural and other underserved areas.