Va. community clinics receive $79M in federal funding
Warner trying to close Medicare loophole threatening other clinics
U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced Friday that 26 community clinics in Virginia will receive $79 million in funding through the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan federal stimulus package. Warner also introduced legislation this week to support other community clinics — most run by health systems in the state’s rural areas — by closing a Medicare payment loophole.
Warner and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, are co-sponsoring Senate legislation that would fix a “sudden and unexpected Medicare payment rate change” included by mistake in the December 2020 COVID-19 relief bill, which excluded any clinics established after December 2019 in a freeze on Medicare payment rates. Nearly 30 clinics in Virginia are impacted, including 18 owned by Carilion Clinic.
“The language in question would have significantly reduced payments to rural health clinics across the country, potentially causing many to face financial uncertainty,” said Carilion Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Don Halliwill in a statement. “This technical fix will allow us to better sustain, and even increase, access to health care in the rural communities we serve. For us and hundreds of other rural health providers, this change will make it easier for us to continue to invest in communities where access to care has been identified as a need.”
Sentara Healthcare and Valley Health also own impacted clinics and have given their support to the measure. The legislation, known as the Strengthening Rural Health Clinics Act of 2021, would amend existing law to grandfather clinics at their current Medicare payment rates if the clinics were in existence or in “mid-build” by Dec. 31, 2020, or if an organization had submitted an application or binding agreement for establishing a rural clinic by the end of 2020.
“In the past year, rural health clinics have played an essential role in bringing urgent and lifesaving care to some of our most vulnerable communities. Unfortunately, this crisis has served to further throw these facilities into financial distress,” Warner said in a statement. “By fixing a legislative error, our bill will help avoid further financial volatility and allow rural health clinics in Virginia and across the country to continue serving the communities that need it the most.”
Under the American Rescue Plan, the following nonprofit community clinics and health services organizations will receive $79 million in federal funding for expanding COVID-19 vaccination and testing, as well as providing preventive and primary care for people at higher risk of becoming seriously ill. Health centers also can use the funds to expand operational capacity, such as improving infrastructure or adding mobile units.
- Central Virginia Health Services Inc. (Buckingham County), $8.8 million
- Neighborhood Health (Alexandria), $7.8 million
- Eastern Shore Rural Health System Inc., $5.7 million
- Greater Prince William Area Community Health Center Inc., $4.6 million
- Peninsula Institute for Community Health Inc., $4.6 million
- Johnson Health Center (Lynchburg), $4.3 million
- Loudoun Community Health Center, $3.9 million
- Piedmont Access to Health Services Inc. (Danville), $3.6 million
- Healthy Community Health Centers (formerly Harrisonburg Community Health Center), $3.4 million
- Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems Inc. (Smyth and Washington counties), $3 million
- St. Charles Health Council Inc. (Lee County), $3 million
- Portsmouth Community Health Center Inc., $2.7 million
- Kuumba Community Health & Wellness Center Inc. (Roanoke), $2.4 million
- Southern Dominion Health Systems Inc. (Lunenburg County), $2.3 million
- Daily Planet Inc. (Richmond), $2.2 million
- Tri-Area Community Health (Carroll County), $1.9 million
- Blue Ridge Medical Center Inc., $1.8 million
- Rockbridge Area Free Clinic, $1.6 million
- Bland County Medical Center Inc., $1.5 million
- Free Clinic of the New River Valley Inc., $1.4 million
- Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness, $1.4 million
- Horizon Health Services Inc. (Sussex County), $1.1 million
- Clinch River Health Services Inc., $950,375
- Stony Creek Community Health Center (Sussex County), $889,500
- Highland Medical Center (Highland County), $822,750
The city of Richmond also received $2.9 million.