WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded the Rural Health Resource Center in Duluth a $10 million grant.

This funding will allow the Center to expand the Delta Region Community Health Systems Development Program, which provides technical assistance to rural health care organizations to improve patient outcomes, retain healthcare providers, and ensure long term financial stability. 

“Expanding access to quality health care in rural areas is crucial to the success and prosperity of our state,” Klobuchar said. “This grant will make a real difference by increasing telehealth offerings, ensuring access to emergency medical clinics, and addressing workforce needs. I’ll continue working to secure federal funding to ensure all Minnesotans can receive the care and services they need, regardless of their zip code.”

“As Chair of the Rural Development Subcommittee and Co-Chair of the Senate Rural Health Caucus, I’ve made it my goal to highlight the contributions of rural places in Washington. I also want to make sure we’re addressing the unique barriers faced by rural health care providers, which is why I’m so glad this funding will go a long way in helping the Rural Health Resource Center provide great care and retain staff,” Smith said. “When rural health systems are financially stable, we have a more resilient rural health system that can reach more Minnesotans living in rural areas.”

In July, Klobuchar and Smith joined U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making significant funding available through Emergency Rural Health Care grants to help rural health care facilities, tribes, and communities expand access to coronavirus vaccines, health care services, and nutrition assistance.

In December, Klobuchar fought to put in place a federal distribution strategy to ensure health care systems and pharmacies in rural communities would be able to distribute and administer coronavirus vaccines. She has also advocated to increase the number of health care providers in rural communities, and in May introduced bipartisan legislation to allow international doctors to remain in the U.S. upon completing their residency under the condition that they practice in areas experiencing doctor shortages. In June, Klobuchar led a bipartisan letter urging the Biden Administration to prioritize implementation of a new Rural Emergency Hospital designation, which would provide increased funds to many rural hospitals.

Smith says that with the American Rescue Plan, we have the opportunity to provide the emergency relief rural health systems need, and help rural providers build back better. In the Senate, Smith worked to secure $500 million for the Community Facilities Program to help rural hospitals respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen their operations moving forward, including by expanding telehealth access, strengthening the health care workforce, and expanding nutrition assistance.

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