The U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s budget request for FY 2024, Building a Healthy America, was released on March 9, 2023, and HRSA’s FY 2024 Congressional Budget Justification was released on March 13, 2023. The total request for the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) was a budget of $416 million, an increase of $63 million from the FY 2023 enacted budget. This budget request would enable FORHP to continue funding to our technical assistance partners, expand our reach to additional rural communities, and develop three new programs.
Notable increases would include:
- Rural Outreach Grants – $2 million increase
- Rural Communities Opioids Response Program – $20 million increase
The budget proposes three new programs targeting the unique and emerging needs of rural communities.
- Rural Health Clinic Behavioral Health Initiative: Rural areas represent nearly 60 percent of Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas, encompassing more than 25 million people who do not have adequate access to mental healthcare providers. $10 million would support an initiative to expand access to mental health services in rural communities where Rural Health Clinics serve as a key access point.
With 143 hospital closures since 2010, including 19 closures in 2020, the FY 2024 budget requests an investment of $30 million towards helping rural communities sustain their hospital (including Critical Access Hospitals and Rural Emergency Hospitals) healthcare infrastructure.
- Financial and Community Sustainability for At-Risk Rural Hospitals Program: $10 million would support rural hospitals at-risk for imminent closure through targeted technical assistance, and
- Rural Hospital Stabilization Pilot Program, $20 million would go toward new pilot program supporting to at-risk rural hospitals to enhance and or expand needed service lines.
The request also proposes significant investments in the health workforce. HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce would see an overall increase of $892 million from the FY 2023 budget, of which National Health Service Corps would receive a $548 million increase to ensure even more providers are incentivized to practice in underserved and rural communities. Additionally, $125 million would be added to the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States Initiative, specifically to increase evidence-based practices and support HIV care for clients including those in the seven states with substantial rural HIV burden.