Federal Funding Opportunities for Independent Hospitals
The COVID-19 pandemic spurred many large federal grant programs that, unfortunately, will not reoccur as the PHE expires. But these programs did lay the groundwork for prioritizing and enhancing virtual care services with the boom of telehealth adoption.
As such, there are still several funding opportunities that independent hospitals can tap into:
- Healthcare Connect Fund: This grant, managed by the Universal Service Administrative Co. (a not-for-profit corporation charged with administering certain federal grant funds), provides a 65 percent discount on broadband connectivity costs for eligible rural healthcare providers. It can provide funds for a router or switch directly connected to a service provider; help pay for installing network equipment and firewalls; and cover equipment warranties and maintenance contracts. This kind of consistent, noncompetitive funding would allow organizations to regularly budget for these needs.
- Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants: This competitive program, managed by the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Rural Development office, offers funding specifically to support digitally enabled connections for rural communities. For healthcare organizations, that would mean supporting the establishment or expansion of virtual care services. The grants can support audio, video licensing and interactive video equipment for providing telemedicine; related telemedicine software, for up to three years; and network components, software and computer hardware.
- Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program: The SHIP program, managed by the Health and Human Services Department’s Health Resources and Services Administration, aims to help rural hospitals that have 49 beds or fewer meet value-based payment and care goals. The funding can cover costs for health IT hardware and software, and certain quality improvement trainings.
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