MHA Comments on Telecommunications/ Broadband Rules for Rural Hospitals

The MHA submitted a comment letter April 14 on behalf of its rural hospital members to the Federal Communications Commission in response to its request for input on proposed rulemaking to improve the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program.

The RHC Program provides funding to healthcare providers for telecommunications and broadband services necessary to provide healthcare services. Given the advancement in technology in recent years, the RHC Program is critical for expanding access to broadband services. Members with questions should contact Lauren LaPine at the MHA.

Survey Results Will Support Rural Workforce Solutions

The National Rural Health Association and The Chartis Center for Rural Health are partnering on a new rural health safety net survey exploring staffing shortages at rural hospitals. Hospital input will provide a better understanding of how the staffing crisis is impacting the delivery of care in rural communities and inform future research.

The survey should take approximately five minutes to complete. Michigan’s small or rural hospital members are encouraged to complete this survey not only to inform national efforts, but also because Michigan-specific results will be shared with the MHA to support crafting rural workforce solutions. Members with questions should contact Lauren LaPine at the MHA.

$35 Million in Grants Available for Mental Health Support

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced March 9 that nearly $35 million in funding is available nationally to strengthen and expand community mental health services and suicide prevention programs for children and young adults. Grants are available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Office of Minority Health.

The funding will be divided among seven grant programs, which are part of a larger Biden administration initiative to address the nation’s mental health crisis. More information on each of the grants is available in the HHS news release. Members with questions may contact Lauren LaPine at the MHA.

Resources Available to Plan Care for Afghan Refugees

To help members prepare for the potential influx of Afghan refugees to Michigan and neighboring states, the MHA is compiling relevant information for providing healthcare to these individuals. Through its national healthcare networks, the MHA has learned of 13,000 refugees who have been placed in Wisconsin and the potential for 1,300 coming to Michigan.

Minimal guidance has been released at the federal level to date. The MHA will keep members apprised as new guidance becomes available. Current guidance and resources include:

Members seeking additional support or information are encouraged to contact Lauren LaPine at the MHA.

Grant Funding Available for Rural Healthcare Services

MHA-member small and rural hospitals are eligible for new funding made available through the American Rescue Plan. The Emergency Rural Health Care program is designed to help broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, rural healthcare services and food assistance through food banks and food distribution facilities. Rural healthcare is challenged by immediate financial needs stemming from COVID-19 related expenses, and long-term access to — and availability of — rural healthcare services have been further hampered by the pandemic. In response to these challenges, this program offers two tracks of funding to eligible applicants.

  • Track One: Recovery Grants provide immediate relief to address the economic conditions arising from the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Track Two: Impact Grants advance ideas and solutions to solve regional rural healthcare problems to support the long-term sustainability of rural health.

Eligible applicants include public bodies, community-based nonprofits and federally recognized tribes. Facilities and projects supported through this grant must be in rural areas with populations of 20,000 or fewer and must primarily serve rural areas.

To learn more about this opportunity, members can attend an informational webinar from 2 to 3 p.m. Aug. 25 or visit the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants webpage.

This funding opportunity will be discussed at the next meeting of the MHA Small or Rural Hospital Council. Questions may be directed to Lauren LaPine at the MHA.