Gem State Roundup

Idaho health care to get another $10 million in state aid for COVID-19 surge

By: - September 21, 2021 12:16 pm
Idaho Gov. Brad Little

Brad Little has served as Idaho’s governor since 2019.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced Tuesday that health care providers will receive another $10 million in relief dollars to help them respond to the recent surge in COVID-19 patients.

“We have taken many steps to preserve access to health care during the pandemic, and this latest round of support will help ease the burden on our hospitals and health care heroes right now,” Little said in a news release.

The funds come in addition to previous efforts to blunt the surge, and to counteract the loss of nurses and other health care staff to burnout, retirements and higher paying travel jobs elsewhere.

Here’s how the funds will be used, according to a proposal provided to the Idaho Capital Sun by the governor’s office:

  • Hospitals: $3 million.
    Since the state announced $4 million in funds to help hire and retain staff, 29 hospitals received $1,000 per licensed bed. Idaho has more than 50 inpatient hospitals, most of which are actively seeing COVID-19 patients. The state had issued about $2.4 million in payments from that pool as of Sept. 14. The newly allocated $3 million will bring the total funding to $7 million, allowing more Idaho hospitals to apply for help.
  • Free-standing primary care and urgent care clinics: $3.5 million.
    These outpatient clinics can relieve stress on emergency rooms by providing COVID-19 tests and seeing patients with urgent, but not emergent, health conditions. The state previously announced grants in various amounts, based on the size of the clinic. Six clinics have been awarded a total of nearly $1 million. However, the state has another 13 clinics that applied and were approved to receive grants. It also expects to receive more applications.
  • Nursing homes and rehab facilities: $3.5 million.
    Long-term care facilities are understaffed and have been unable to take patients as quickly as hospitals need to discharge them. Those patients are remaining in the hospital because they cannot be discharged to their homes. The funding will go to long-term care facilities that accept these patients.
Health & Welfare Coronavirus Relief Fund Letter

In addition, the state previously announced:

  • $4 million for hospitals, $1 million for standalone clinics and $5 million for long-term care facilities.
  • Funding to establish three new monoclonal antibody treatment facilities across Idaho, where certain high-risk COVID-19 patients could receive early treatment that could keep them out of the hospital. The North Idaho center opened recently, according to KTVB, but the Treasure Valley center has been delayed. There are 32 Idaho hospitals offering monoclonal antibody treatments in Idaho, Little’s news release said.
  • Idaho National Guard deployment and federal contracts sending up to 370 additional personnel to assist hospitals.
  • Waived licensing fees for retired or inactive nurses.
  • $30 million for COVID-19 testing in Idaho K-12 schools.

“Since the COVID-19 vaccine was made widely available to everyone in May, nearly all new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are among the unvaccinated,” the news release said.

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Audrey Dutton
Audrey Dutton

Audrey Dutton was a senior investigative reporter with the Idaho Capital Sun after 10 years at the Idaho Statesman. Her favorite topics to cover included health care, business, consumer protection issues and white collar crime. Before coming home to Idaho, Dutton worked as a journalist in Minnesota, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dutton's work has earned dozens of state, regional and national awards for investigative reporting, health care and business reporting, data visualization and more.