Press Release

May 6, 2011

WASHINGTON  – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded a $180,000 Rural Health Network Development grant to the Western Maryland Area Health Education Center on  behalf of the Mountain Health Alliance (MHA).  MHA will use the funding to expand access to and improve the quality and delivery of essential health care services in the Hancock region of Washington and Allegany counties.  MHA’s goal is to eliminate health disparities in rural areas and disparities based on income levels and educational achievement.

“Access to health care should not be defined by one’s income, education level or place of residence,” said Senator Cardin.  “Inequalities in health care needlessly afflict people all across the country and exact an enormous economic toll.  I applaud the Mountain Health Alliance for recognizing the need to erase health disparities in Washington and Allegany counties.  This funding will help ensure that people in Western Maryland get access to the quality health services they need.”  

“My job as a U.S. Senator is to provide opportunity for the American people, and health care is one of the greatest opportunities we can provide,” Senator Mikulski said. “Everyone deserves access to affordable, quality health care. This federal funding will continue to improve health care accessibility for the low-income families in Western Maryland who need it most.”

During the grant’s three-year funding cycle, MHA will focus on addressing oral health care needs of residents in the region.  Poor oral health is often described as a silent epidemic because it undermines employability and quality of life for those suffering from oral health disease.  MHA’s target population will be low-income, uninsured and underinsured residents.

HRSA Rural Health Network Development grants support improving access and quality of health care, health outcomes and public health and health care systems. The program also supports HHS’ goals of improving the safety, quality, affordability and accessibility of health care, and the economic and social well-being of individuals, families, and communities.  Grants are awarded to rural providers who work in networks, alliances, coalitions or partnerships to integrate administrative, clinical, technological, and financial functions.