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By Mary Scott Nabers
As 2021 winds down, officials at every governmental level are unrolling budgets for 2022. As they consider spending options for an unpredictable future, many appear to be relying on lessons learned from the previous fiscal year – the year when COVID dominated almost everything. To this end, it’s not hard to identify risk factors that still concern public officials and their common focus on health-care initiatives.
At the federal level of government, health-care concerns have resulted in funding support. Numerous comprehensive and inclusive community-based health-care programs provide funding for citizen services.
Leaning into the forecasted health-care trends, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a funding allocation of $276 million for state and local public health initiatives. This funding will be distributed among 138 grantees through the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Expansion. The grant program, which will be open for funding requests on December 30, will promote treatment for behavioral health disorders.
Funding for similar health protection concerns can be found in other federal programs. In October, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration announced $3.2 million in funding for the 2022 Emergency Medical Services for Children Data Center to promote high-quality emergency services for children.
The national emphasis on expanded community care also is anchored in localized sources of funding programmed for 2022. This priority is exhibited clearly in the Texas state government’s working budget, which will direct $810.5 million in support of rural and Medicaid hospitals where medical management options are otherwise sparse. The budget includes $300 million for safety net hospitals to ensure that providers who serve to individuals without health insurance are covered.
Cook County in Illinois also is encouraging a wider network of high-quality health care. This encouragement is supported by the county’s approximate $4 billion health fund that will finance several projects including work on two safety net hospitals. This is a $501 million increase in the county’s health fund.
Colorado state government’s Health Disparities and Community Grant Program is designed to improve public health services. The program, which will accept applications until December 1, will award funding to community organizations focused on alleviating disparities in the quality of health care for citizens.
State officials in California are funding initiatives to ensure expanded community-based wellness programs through more advanced data monitoring. The California Health and Human Services (CHHS) office is scheduled to direct $3.2 million from its upcoming fiscal budget and $1.1 million from the next year’s budget to a tech-based partnership charged with development of a digital dashboard to allow CHHS to examine any service gaps to all citizens.
The trend toward more community-oriented health care is somewhat new. State and local governments are funding telehealth initiatives designed to improve access and speed for critical medical care. California is adding fuel to the trend of telehealth with its plans to allocate $33.1 million in general funds for online and digital services.
In New York, the trends of telehealth and rural health-care improvements coalesce in the statewide Reimagine Rebuild Renew New York program. State officials have authorized $3 million for a grant program that bolsters recent public health patterns. The program will match private funds directed toward telehealth infrastructure, specifically to accommodate rural providers.
Similar initiatives also have been incorporated into state budgets in Florida and Michigan. Florida’s Department of Health hopes to receive $2.8 million in funding to support data integration across various health-care facilities. The agency wants to use the funding to hire a technology contractor to overhaul its existing data management infrastructure.
Michigan has apportioned $8.4 million to form partnerships to reduce health disparities through the Michigan Health Information Network by enhancing data monitoring in conjunction with expanded community-based health coverage.
The federal and statewide focus on improving health-care services and the extreme amounts of funding now available make it very clear – these services will be reimagined at every level of government.
Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.