(The Center Square) – Iowa will spend up to $1.5 million in federal funding to support rural regional health care centers.
Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services announced the grant funding Thursday.
The state’s rural counties have more than 82 critical access hospitals, 170 rural health centers and 76 local public health agencies, the request for proposal said. Iowa also has 14 community health centers that have full health services in more than 48 locations.
The funding will support Centers of Excellence, which provide regional access to specialty care, according to the news release. The focus is innovation and collaboration.
“Declining populations in some rural communities across Iowa have resulted in lower volumes of patients for local health care providers,” the request for proposal said. “Local hospitals and health care providers are struggling to sustain all the services they’ve historically offered. Changing how and where care is delivered by leveraging resources regionally can improve access to care in some areas of our state. Centers of Excellence can play a pivotal role in encouraging collaboration among regional health care providers in rural areas.”
Forty percent of Iowans live in rural areas, the release said. These residents experience social, economic and health-related disparities.
“Establishing access to comprehensive, quality health care services is critical to promote and maintain health, prevent and manage disease and achieve health equity for all Iowans,” the release said.
Reynolds said the centers also deliver primary care locally.
HHS plans to have $1.5 million available for two awards of $750,000 each, the release said. The allocations would be $250,000 per year. Applications that propose to serve a large number of rural residents will receive priority.
Applicants’ service delivery region must include at least four contiguous rural counties or rural portions of counties, the request for proposal said. The contract period runs from Aug. 1 this year to July 31, 2026.
The centers’ options for using the funding include attracting specialty care providers, redesigning or remodeling physical space to accommodate services or investing in necessary technology, the release said.
Applications are due July 12. The state plans to announce July 26 which applicants it intends to award.
St. Anthony Home Health and Unity Point Health, which previously received funding for centers, can’t use the funding for those centers, the request for proposal said.