20 December 2021
With Christmas fast approaching and the New Year right behind it, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Whether we’re preoccupied with finalizing holiday preparations for the family or immersed in our community’s Christmas festivities, the commotion of this time of year can be a distraction from the greatest gift the world has ever received—the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we celebrate Christmas this year, it is my sincere hope that we reflect on the true meaning of Christmas by glorifying the One who gave it all. From my family to yours, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” — Isaiah 9:6.
With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol…
As you may know, in the Third Called Session of the 87th, the Legislature allocated nearly $16 billion in federal relief funds for statewide COVID-19 recovery. Allocated through the American Rescue Plan (ARPA), these funds have addressed a wide range of issues, from improving public health to investing in broadband infrastructure. With local governments starting to receive these federal dollars, community leaders are in the process of determining how best to allocate these funds at the local level.
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which played a significant role in determining how the ARPA funds were spent, one of my top priorities was to increase funding for our rural hospitals. As the Representative for a largely rural district, I have a deep understanding of the ongoing crisis our rural communities are facing as hospitals and medical facilities shutter. In fact, studies indicate that since 2005, 24 rural hospitals have closed in Texas, which is the highest number of closures in the country. Equally unfortunate, our state’s hospital closures have predominantly occurred in East Texas.
Fortunately, the Texas Legislature has taken steps to help address the ongoing crisis. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) recently announced $128 million in federal funding to rural hospitals and nursing facilities to support healthcare providers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The direct grant funds will help pay for critical staffing needs in hospitals and nursing facilities in our rural communities. Separately, Texas rural hospitals, nursing facilities, community attendants, home health agencies, and other long-term care providers will have the opportunity to apply for $325.3 million in competitive grants in early 2022. Rest assured, my office will continue to monitor any developments and provide updates on these opportunities as they become available.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.