Rural Providers Tap New Vein for Funding Health IT
Rural health care providers looking for financial assistance to help with the expense of purchasing health information technology (IT) may have another resource to tap. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’) Rural Health IT Task Force and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) linking rural hospitals and clinicians to USDA Rural Development grants and loans.
The MOA ensures rural health care providers can use existing capital loan programs to purchase software and hardware needed to implement health IT.
According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, two key USDA Rural Development programs will be available to rural providers:
- Community Facilities Program, which provides direct and guaranteed loans, as well as grants, for community facilities projects in rural areas. This program may help offset the costs of electronic health record (EHR) implementation for rural health care providers.
- Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program, which may provide grants to help bring telemedicine services to rural communities.
The MOA is part of the Obama administration’s new job initiative for rural America. Read the Aug. 16 White House press release for more information about the initiative.