Across the country, COVID-19 testing continues to increase. It’s important that every area of the country has the ability and resources to be able to test those who need a test. Thankfully, more help is on the way to expand COVID-19 testing in Missouri.
Missouri is home to more rural health clinics than any other state in the country. These clinics are vital to our rural communities. Often, they are the only show in town. In some cases, the next closest healthcare provider, that isn’t a rural health clinic, might be an hour away or more.
When it comes to battling the current COVID-19 crisis, these clinics play a huge role. However, they must have the resources necessary to provide adequate COVID-19 testing for the folks that they serve. Without additional help for these clinics, many rural Americans might be forced to travel several counties over to get tested for COVID-19.
The Paycheck Protection and Health Care Enhancement Act, which I was proud to support, included funding for our rural health clinics and urban healthcare providers to expand and support COVID-19 testing. Now, as a result of that bill which was signed into law last month, the Department of Health and Human Services is distributing $225 million to help rural health clinics test more of the folks that they serve for COVID-19.
Of that $225 million, $17 million is coming right here to Missouri, the most of any state in the nation. That money will go to 351 rural health clinics throughout the state. This was on top of the $4.1 million that the state received earlier this month to help our rural hospitals provide testing through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program.
Rural healthcare faced many challenges before the pandemic. Those dramatically increased once the virus hit, with the reduction in elective surgeries and in-patient visits. It’s essential that our healthcare providers are not only able to stay in business and provide routine healthcare but are also able to remain strong in the fight against COVID-19. This funding will go a long way towards increasing the availability of testing in our rural areas, ensuring that they are able to do just that.