Date

Press release

Biden-Harris Administration Awards Alabama Up to $5 Million to Transform Delivery of Rural Health Care

200,000 Alabamians Could Benefit from Improved Transportation Services to and from Hospitals

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) an initial $2 million to address disparities in health equity by improving access to quality health care in rural communities.

These funds will help test whether improving access to telehealth services and access to adequate transportation for those living in rural areas can maintain or improve care quality and lower health care costs. UAB seeks to expand telemedicine and community-based services to nearly 200,000 Alabamians with Medicare. In addition, working with the Alabama Rural Transit Assistance Program, UAB will look to offer free or discounted transportation services to and from participating hospitals.

“By expanding access to telemedicine and transportation to appointments, we are investing in the health of rural residents,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Providing increased access to health care in rural communities is a priority for the Biden-Harris Administration. These awards are one step to ensure access to health care is equitable and that we are reaching underserved communities.”

This award is part of the CMS Innovation Center’s Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Model. As an award recipient, UAB can receive as much as $5 million, with $2 million being given during the initial pre-implementation phase and as much as $3 million upon completion of milestones over the course of six performance periods.

More than 57 million people live in rural communities across the United States with approximately 1,957,000 in Alabama. Rural residents tend to be older with more complicated health needs than their urban counterparts. In addition, rural communities often face challenges with access to care, financial viability, and the lack of infrastructure investments in some rural areas can negatively impact people’s health. Within rural areas, Black, Latino, and other communities of color experience greater access barriers and disparities in health outcomes. Rural residents may also have limited access to high-speed internet, hindering their ability to leverage online health care information and to participate in remote or telehealth visits with their health care practitioners.

The CHART Model invests in rural areas by offering technical assistance and support as they implement care delivery reforms to serve their populations. This can include modernizing infrastructure and using technology to eliminate traditional barriers to care, like distance to specialists or transportation issues. Within the supportive framework of the CHART Model, for example, award recipients can expand telehealth to make it easier for people in rural areas to receive care.

For more information on the CHART Model, visit: https://innovation.cms.gov/innovation-models/chart-model.

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