(The Center Square) – Three Iowa hospitals are receiving grants through the state’s Centers for Excellence Program.
Cass Health, Mahaska Health and Van Buren County Hospital will each receive up to $225,000 annually for the next three years, according to a news release from Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office. The total grant amount is up to $2.2 million.
Forty percent of Iowans live in rural areas where health care access is a challenge, according to Reynolds’ office.
Cass Health has a multi-county partnership focusing on maternal health, according to a news release from Reynolds.
“Sustaining and growing OB outreach clinics in this rural region aims to reduce transportation and financial resource barriers,” according to the news release. “This will increase routine access to prenatal and postnatal care.”
Mahaska Health is focusing on specialty care in a 14-county region.
Van Bureau County Hospital has a four-county alliance that addresses the needs of geriatric patients.
The governor announced funding for the program in June. Priority is given to hospitals that attract specialty care providers, remodel space to support services and make technology investments.
“The Centers of Excellence grants not only support health care providers in improving access to specialty care in rural communities, but sustaining it long term,” Reynolds said. “I’m thrilled that this program will help three more regional health systems address the specific needs of their surrounding communities, and I’m committed to growing legislative support for these efforts.”
Consumer finance website WalletHub ranked Iowa’s health care system as the second best in the country and second in health care costs.
Health care still faces other hurdles, including workforce and the high cost of care, according to Whitney Zahnd, an assistant professor and deputy director of the RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis at the University of Iowa.
“Prescription drug costs are particularly burdensome to many individuals,” Zahand said in comments provided by WalletHub. “Reforms to Medicare Part D were passed last year as part of the Inflation Reduction Act that will reduce the costs of medications, including insulin, for Medicare beneficiaries who have Part D coverage. However, these reforms do not affect those with other sources of coverage.”