A man leaves the Ivinson Memorial Hospital through the patient entrance in March 2020. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

The Wyoming Department of Health last week invited health and human service providers to apply for innovation, construction and provider relief grants. 

The department has $10 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to direct toward these efforts. The Wyoming Legislature earmarked the federal stimulus funds during the 2022 session. 

The funds may offer a boost to hospitals and other health care providers still reeling from COVID-19 impacts.

Why it matters

Health care providers across the nation have struggled amid the pandemic. 

The Bipartisan Policy Center released a report in May examining, in part, the financial health of hospitals in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. 

The report noted some hospitals experienced three consecutive years of negative total operating margins, with one hospital in Wyoming “experiencing persistent financial losses” up to 38%. Two Wyoming hospitals recently announced labor and delivery unit closures and staffing shortages persist. A Wyoming hospital executive told BPC researchers, “Federal dollars have helped, but some rural facilities continue to sustain financial losses even amidst the federal relief.”

Background

Under the American Rescue Plan Act, $350 billion was set aside for state, local and tribal governments to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. 

In total, the Wyoming Legislature appropriated $45.9 million to the Department of Health.

Of Wyoming’s roughly $1 billion ARPA dollars, $5 million is allocated to the state’s Health and Human Services Innovation fund. Proposed research projects should focus on rural health care, long-term care, provisions of human services, community behavioral health, mental health, health information technology and digital medical innovations, according to the Wyoming Department of Health funding opportunity announcement.

Another $5 million was set aside for the Human Services Capital Improvement and Provider Relief Fund. Those funds can be used for improving “existing infrastructure and to provide financial relief to providers at imminent risk of closure.” 

Who said what

“The organizations that offer healthcare and other support services to our state’s residents have carried an extra burden the last couple of years,” WDH director Stefan Johansson said in a statement last week. “These funding opportunities can offer some help and a chance to look ahead for improvements.” 

When and how much

WDH will award up to $500,000 for the Capital Improvement and Provider Relief Grant per successful applicant and up to $625,000 for Innovation Grants.

Applications can be submitted from July 1 to Sept. 1.

Sofia Jeremias

Sofia Jeremias reports on healthcare, education and the economy in Wyoming. She received her master's degree from the Columbia Journalism School and previously reported on the West for Deseret News.

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