Texas initiates grant application process to invest $20 million in ARPA funds to build health centers in underserved communities
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has opened grant application submissions for its Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Incubator Program. The program grants will aid eligible nonprofit and public health care providers in expanding services to underserved and uninsured Texans.
“Supporting people’s access to quality health care is part of DSHS’s mission to improve the health and well-being of Texans,” said DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD. “This funding will further that goal in communities across Texas.”
In its last session, the Texas Legislature appropriated $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support the program. There are more than 600 community clinics offering free health care services statewide, many of which are FQHCs. These and other nonprofit or public entities providing primary care services are eligible to apply to receive funding through these ARPA funds.
The awarded funds can be used for a variety of health care improvements, including purchasing new equipment, adding staff to increase services, and expanding buildings to serve more patients. Providers that are not FQHCs can use the funds to apply to become federally qualified.
“Federally Qualified Health Centers are a valuable support for people who need essential medical care but live in areas where resources are scarce and access can be challenging,” State Sen. Robert Nichols (R – Jacksonville) said. “Once they are up and running, they operate without local or state financial support. These grants are intended to bridge the gap between start-up cost and full certification to enable the program to expand in Texas. FQHCs serve a pivotal role in our health care system, and I was very happy funding for the incubator program was secured.”
Existing FQHCs and look-alikes can receive up to $500,000 in grants while the maximum award of $1 million will be given to select nonprofit organizations and governmental entities that are not FQHCs but provide primary care services and are also transitioning to become FQHCs.
“I am proud to have secured funding for the FQHC Incubator Program,” State Rep. Tom Oliverson (R – Cypress) said. “These grants will help deserving nonprofit health care organizations—like TOMAGWA (HealthCare Ministries) in my district—that are in the process of applying to become a Federally Qualified Health Center. I am excited about the opportunity these grants will create by promoting and supporting new nonprofit and public entities through the FQHC development process.”
The government’s grant program joins similar efforts in the private sector as numerous health care organizations in the state are pursuing their own community health grant programs. Texas Health Resources is investing $8 million in its 3rd grant cycle and will have invested $18.2 million in community health grants by next year. Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF) has awarded $21 million in grants to community-based organizations and clinics across the state that are addressing social determinants of health.
Open enrollment for the incubator program is on a first-come, first-served basis and will close on December 31st, 2022, or until funding is exhausted. All funded activities must be completed by Aug. 31st, 2023, to receive the full contracted amounts. Grant applications can be requested online and eligible entities can learn more about the process through a recorded webinar outlining the program.