Governor Abbott recently announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is set to receive $5 million in federal funding to help serve rural hospitals. This funding is part of a new program dedicated to addressing health disparities, improving health outcomes, and furthering access to telemedicine. Participating hospitals will have the opportunity to redesign their health care delivery system, purchase telemedicine equipment, training, software, and hire additional staff. As of now, several counties are eligible across Texas, including Angelina and San Augustine Counties in our House district. The pandemic has had a detrimental effect on our rural hospitals, and it is my hope that this funding will offer much-needed assistance to our rural hospitals and enhance the quality of healthcare in East Texas.
With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol…
As you may know, the Texas Legislature is set to convene on September 20 for a Third Called Special Session, primarily to redraw political lines, but also to discuss other issues brought by the Governor’s proclamation. One item of particular interest, tasks the Texas Legislature with allocating nearly $16 billion in federal relief funds for COVID-19 recovery.
The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds is a disbursement of federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which Congress passed to help offset the financial impact caused by the pandemic. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will be working with my colleagues to determine where best to invest these federal funds. And, just like with our state budget, my priority will be to ensure we appropriate those dollars in a pennywise and fiscally prudent manner.
The U.S. Department of Treasury mentions several uses for the federal funds and allows flexibility to best meet the needs of Texans. Of the $16 billion, funds may be used to: support public health expenditures, address negative economic impacts, replace lost public sector revenue, provide premium pay to essential workers, and invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. I am confident that my colleagues and I can reach a thoughtful solution to not only allocate funds for immediate solutions, but also provide long-term investments to benefit our region and the future of all Texans.
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/.