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Senators Shaheen, Hassan & Bipartisan Group of Colleagues Call on Biden Administration to Support Rural Health Care Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

(Washington, DC) -- U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) are part of a bipartisan group of Senators calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prioritize and quickly distribute federal funding to rural and underserved communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding was made possible by the December COVID-19 relief and government funding package that Senators Shaheen and Hassan helped negotiate and pass into law, and is intended to support testing, contact tracing, surveillance, containment, and mitigation to monitor and contain COVID-19 in rural communities. Senators Shaheen and Hassan were joined by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Angus King (I-ME).

The Senators wrote, “In recognition of the unique challenges faced by high-risk, rural, and underserved areas, and the fact that current population-based formula funding may not factor in these circumstances, Congress set aside $2.5 billion provided in the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for ‘high-risk and underserved populations and rural communities’ to be allocated in a targeted manner. While this package did not provide the set-aside for rural providers that we have argued for in our bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal, it provided an essential lifeline to help them navigate these next few months, and it was coupled with other critical assistance for these providers that we urge you to implement as quickly as possible.”

The Senators continued, “With the very concerning trends in rural America, additional resources are needed to ensure that health providers and health departments have the funding necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund set-aside should be distributed to support rural and underserved communities across the United States as quickly as possible.”

Senators Shaheen and Hassan are working to ensure that rural communities in New Hampshire have the support that they need to make it through this challenging time. Senators Shaheen and Hassan joined the rest of the delegation in announcing that New Hampshire’s rural hospitals and health care providers received $115.4 million as part of the CARES Act that passed Congress in March. Last month, the Senators joined Representative Kuster in announcing $1,231,238 in federal funding to help address health care workforce shortages in rural New Hampshire communities. The delegation also announced a $685,000 federal grant to New Hampshire in November to help bolster workforce training for rural educators impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter can be read in full here.