WASHINGTON, DC – Several U.S. Senators, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), have written a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), insisting that funding be distributed to rural communities to provide assistance as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.
A news release from the United States Senate stated that Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Angus King (I-ME) have called on the HHS to prioritize and quickly distribute the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to rural and underserved communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, funded in the recent year-end spending package, is intended to support testing, contact tracing, surveillance, containment and mitigation to monitor and suppress COVID-19, according to the release.
In the letter, the Senators said in part, “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… 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.”
To read the Senators’ full letter, click here.