ARRA Money Continues To Flow for Health, Other Projects

By: Helen R. Pfister
– California Healthline

Agencies and departments of the federal government are moving forward with implementing various provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This update summarizes significant developments over the past few months in areas including community health, comparative effectiveness research and broadband expansion.

Community Health Grants Announced

The U.S. Administration on Aging announced $27 million in funding opportunities for chronic disease management programs for seniors. Eligible applicants include state government health and aging departments, who must collaborate on any statewide initiative. Approximately 50 awards are expected for a two-year funding period.

HHS announced $9 million in funding for 43 state survey agencies to help reduce health care-associated infections at ambulatory surgical centers.

Comparative Effectiveness Research Funding

Just before the end of the year, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released $20 million to support three-year research projects exploring how behavioral economics principles could be applied to improve health care providers' use of comparative effectiveness research results. The $20 million is allocated across two grant programs:

  • Up to $5 million will go to improve the general public's understanding of how behavioral economics affect the integration of comparative effectiveness research results into clinical care by health care providers. The application deadline is March 19; and
  • Up to $15 million will go for large-scale clinical trials on whether a specific approach to changing provider behavior based on behavioral economics principles could improve CER utilization of comparative effectiveness in clinical treatment. The application deadline is April 7, 2010.

AHRQ also released $6 million to demonstrate the comparative value of chronic disease management interventions for individuals with co-morbidities. Eligible applicants include higher education institutions, state and local governments, and tribal governments. The maximum grant award will be $500,000. The deadline has passed for applications.

AHRQ released four funding announcements for various activities related to comparative effectiveness research:

  • $44 million for PROSPECT Studies: Building New Clinical Infrastructure for Comparative Effectiveness Research;
  • $4 million for Electronic Data Methods Forum for Comparative Effectiveness Research;
  • $15 million for AHRQ Mentored Clinical Scientists Comparative Effectiveness Development Award; and
  • $5 million for AHRQ Institutional National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Comparative Effectiveness Development Training Award.

CMS published a notice of intent to award a competitive task order for a contractor to produce person-level data files on Medicaid eligibility, service utilization and payment information to support comparative effectiveness research funded through ARRA. CMS also plans to issue a competitive task order for a contractor to link data on nursing facilities and home health agencies as well as administrative data for those enrolled in Medicaid, Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligibles), and private insurance.

The informational notices for Medicaid administrative data and for long-term care data are available online.

Broadband Mapping, Planning Funds Announced

Throughout December, the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced 26 awards to fund broadband mapping and planning under NTIA's State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program. Awardees will collect and verify the availability, speed and location of broadband across the state on a semi-annual basis between 2009 and 2011.

NTIA awarded $183 million to communities in 17 states to expand access to broadband. The awards will be matched by more than $46 million in public and private sector capital. The projects are the first under ARRA's $7.2 billion broadband grant and loan programs administered by NTIA and USDA's Rural Utilities Service. The types of awards announced included:

  • Middle Mile Awards ($121.6 million) to build and improve connections to communities lacking sufficient broadband access;
  • Last Mile Awards ($51.4 million) to connect end users like homes, hospitals and schools to their community's broadband infrastructure (the middle mile);
  • Public Computing ($7.3 million) to expand computer center capacity for public use in libraries, community colleges and other public venues; and
  • Sustainable Adoption ($2.4 million) to fund innovative projects that promote broadband demand with population groups where the technology has traditionally been underutilized.

The commerce department published a notice inviting comments from the public and other federal agencies on the State Broadband Data and Development Program. Comments regarding the burden or any other aspects of the application process are requested. Deadline to comment was Feb. 1.

The Rural Utilities Service and NTIA announced that for efficiency purposes, they are streamlining their ARRA-funded broadband grant and loan programs by consolidating the remaining funds into one more round, instead of two.



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