An Innovative Approach to Targeting Rural Communities in Public Health Funding
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted troubling disparities in health access and outcomes for vulnerable populations. The high case incidence of COVID-19 in rural areas has had severe consequences for mortality. In addition to lower vaccination rates, this high rural mortality has been attributed to unique characteristics of the population in rural America as well as the limited public health and hospital infrastructure in rural communities. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2021 carved out $427 million in state funding to focus on combatting COVID-19 in rural communities as part of a multi-billion dollar national initiative to address COVID-19 related health disparities among at risk and underserved populations.
This project is designed to understand the circumstances around this unprecedented emphasis on rural America in the CDC's key initiatives. To do so, relevant decision-makers, key actors and stakeholders will be interviewed. The analysis will provide critical insight into the evolving relationship between the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy and the CDC over time, lessons learned from this particular grant program, and how those lessons might be able to be applied to future efforts to carve out rural-focused funds from broader grant projects.