A $10B rural relief fund for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was recently announced by Secretary Alex Azar of the Department of Health and Human Services. This funding will offer critical immediate assistance to rural hospitals and health clinics that have been struggling during the pandemic, according to the National Rural Health Association (NRHA).

“The $10B rural carve-out was an important development in stabilizing the operations of rural hospitals,” said Brock Slabach, MPH, FACHE, Senior vice president for member services for the NRHA in an email to Pharmacy Times®. “Since the Public Health Emergency was declared in mid-March, we’ve seen significant surges of COVID-19 related disease as well as precipitous declines volume due to cancellation of elective procedures. These conditions have caused tremendous financial harm to rural hospitals and their ability to sustain their operations.”

The relief money will be distributed on the basis of operating expenses, using a methodology that allocates payments proportionately to each facility and clinic. This method distinguishes the unfortunate financial position of many rural hospitals, with many that are considered unprofitable, according to the NRHA press release.

“Pharmacists have been incredibly valuable in responding to the Public Health Emergency. Their skill and knowledge in dealing with drug shortages, developing alternatives and securing needed supplies has been extremely helpful and important. Patient lives depend on it,” Slabach said in an email to Pharmacy Times®.

“I know that ASHP [American Society of Health-System Pharmacists] has an excellent resource on drug shortage information that has been most useful in providing expert guidance on this important topic,” Slabach added.

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REFERENCE

$10B rural COVID-19 relief secured by NRHA. NRHA [email]. Sent April 22, 2020. Accessed April 24, 2020.