Community health centers in Montana recently received a $520,000 grant to assist with the costs of maintaining EHR systems and other health IT.
Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) recently helped Montana secure a $520,000 grant to alleviate the operating costs associated with running and maintaining EHR technology and other health IT at community health centers across the state, according to Great Falls Tribune.
HHS provided the grant to Montana community health centers earlier this month. The grant will help to cover the costs associated with EHR systems, telehealth solutions, and statewide health information exchanges (HIEs).
“These resources mean that folks across the state will continue to have access to the critical, affordable health care they need and deserve,” said Tester.
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Montana’s Community Health Center Fund expired in September 2017 and lapsed until February 2018. Tester negotiated a deal with HHS to secure funding for health IT in community health centers for two additional years after the fund expired.
Tester has made efforts to support community health centers in the past by increasing funding for critical care providers in rural areas to ensure clinicians have access to functioning EHR technology and other health IT services necessary to enable efficient care delivery in a digitized health system.
“Community health centers provide a great service to folks across the state,” Tester said in January. “In many communities, these facilities are the only health care providers that treat uninsured patients and they do so at an affordable rate. I’ll keep fighting to strengthen Montana’s community health centers so we can increase access and lower the cost of care for all Montanans.”
In 2019, Tester introduced the bipartisan Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence Act. The bill mandates that community health centers receive annual increases in funding over the next five years. These resources will help to ensure Montana residents relying on community health centers have access to affordable care in the future.
“In the ups and downs of these challenging times, the people of Montana can always count on Senator Tester to make sure that health care is accessible to everyone,” said Cindy Stergar, CEO of the Montana Primary Care Association. “We thank him for sponsoring this critical bill.”
Currently, Montana includes more than 60 community health centers serving more than 100,000 patients each year.
This year, Tester has helped community health centers including RiverStone Health receive millions in funding. In March 2019, Tester helped RiverStone secure $4.4 million in funding through HHS. The grant made up most of RiverStone Health’s operating budget for the year.
In 2018, HHS granted community health centers in all 50 states and territories $125 million in health center quality improvement awards.
These awards included EHR Reporters Awards given to health centers that employed EHR systems to report on all clinical quality measures between 2016 and 2017.
“Community health centers provide coordinated, comprehensive, and patient-centered care to millions of Americans,” said HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan. “They have a track record of delivering quality care at significantly lower cost, and are vital partners in our movement toward a health system that delivers quality, affordable, value-based health care for all Americans.”
The awards helped to promote community health centers improvements in areas including access to comprehensive care, care quality and health outcomes, cost-effective care delivery, health disparity reduction, health IT use, and patient-centered care delivery.
Other grants awarded health centers for enhancing access to care, delivering high-value care, and addressing health disparities. HHS granted awards to health centers in collaboration with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
“Quality, value-based care is a priority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and HRSA-funded health centers serve as leaders in quality healthcare in the U.S.,” said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas.
Date: July 11, 2019