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White House announces $8.5B boost to help rural areas fight COVID-19

White House announces $8.5B boost to help rural areas fight COVID-19
The new funds will go toward expanding access to vaccines, testing and supplies, training new health providers and expanding telehealth services in rural areas of the United States. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The White House announced Friday that it's spending nearly $9 billion to help healthcare providers in rural U.S. communities that are struggling to fight COVID-19.

Officials said the plan, coupled with the administration's effort to lower prescription drug prices, is designed to improve the quality of life for rural Americans.

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The funding, $8.5 billion from the American Rescue Plan, will go to help rural hospitals stay open long-term, improve rural healthcare and strengthen their ability to fight COVID-19.

Other actions for the funding include expanding access to vaccines, testing and supplies, training new health providers, expanding telehealth services, opening access to pulmonary rehabilitation services and expanding Veterans Affairs training programs.

The White House said the $3.5 trillion spending plan that was passed by the Senate this week will aid the effort in several ways, including improving drinking water in rural areas.

Friday's announcement includes adding $500 million to create the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program to help rural communities.

"This joint initiative will benefit up to 40 rural communities each year and enable rural clinicians to better train the next generation of clinicians who will serve rural America," the White House said in a statement.

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