South Dakota to use up to $5M federal grant to improve rural health access

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After receiving an initial $2 million and potentially up to $5 million from CMS for rural healthcare, the South Dakota Department of Social Services will try to improve Medicare and Medicaid services and purchase hospital technology, Public News Service reported Sept. 29.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Washington State Healthcare Authority also received CMS grants to address disparities in rural healthcare. 

The $2 million grants were given during the initial pre-implementation phase, and each organization could receive up to an additional $3 million if they complete a series of milestones over six performance periods, the press releases stated.

According to Public News Service, the state's main priority is switching reimbursement structures for Medicare and Medicaid that centers less on patient volume. This would allow providers more flexibility and could combat hospital closures.

The Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform shows that 24 percent of rural hospitals in South Dakota are at risk of closing. 

The grant also enables South Dakota hospitals and clinics to buy telehealth equipment and expand maternity care.

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