(July 16, 2021) – Earlier this week, we learned the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is allocating $23.5 million in federal supplemental funding to Kansas to support the COVID-19 response in rural areas. The funding, made available through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will be available to 91 Kansas hospitals currently eligible for the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program. Kansas is one of 46 states receiving the SHIP funding and is being awarded the second most of any state, only trailing Texas who is receiving $29.7 million.
Each SHIP-eligible hospital is expected to receive approximately $190,000 to $250,000 to assist in COVID-19 testing efforts, support access to testing in rural communities and expand the range of mitigation activities to meet community needs. Allowable activities that may be funded include testing education, establishing alternate testing sites, testing result processing, arranging for the processing of test results, and engaging in other activities within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Community Mitigation Framework to address COVID-19 in rural communities. This funding may not be used to purchase, disseminate or administer COVID-19 vaccines but may be used for community vaccine education. The period of performance is July 1, 2021 – Dec. 31, 2022.
The timing of this announcement has come at an ideal time as many rural communities are starting to see an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases being reported due largely to the spread of the Delta variant. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the number of COVID-19 tests being performed in Kansas has been trending down. Most recently, the monthly testing rate in June 2021 was roughly 1,097 per 100,000 individuals; whereas, the highest monthly testing rate occurred in November 2020 (6,587 per 100,000). This data, as well as other COVID-19 statistics, continues to be reported by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
At this point in time, it is still unclear when the federal funding will become available to hospitals, but hospitals can begin planning now to tailor any testing and mitigation efforts to reflect the needs of their communities. The Kansas Hospital Association will continue to closely monitor any new developments and keep SHIP members updated.