Evers Announces $250 Million In Funding For Wisconsin Health Care & Neighborhood Initiatives
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers went to Racine Tuesday to announce $250 million in new state grant programs funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Congress passed the measure earlier this year.
Communities can apply to the Wisconsin Department of Administration for $200 million in Neighborhood Investment Funds. Evers said the money can go to things like workforce and entrepreneur innovation centers, affordable housing, transit and child care solutions, and public space development — especially for underserved people.
The other $50 million in grant money will be available for health care infrastructure, including new buildings. Evers said the hope is to reduce disparities in care.
"For too many people, access to affordable care, compassionate providers or an accessible clinic remain out of reach. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic further underscores the health disparities and gaps in health care access that many Wisconsinites face," Evers said.
Evers spoke at the soon-to-open Racine Community Health Center, a small facility inside an elementary school. Racine Mayor Cory Mason said he expects the city to apply for some of the state money, as he said his community of about 77,000 is the largest in the Midwest with without a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).
He explained how state-controlled money could help lead to a larger, federally-approved clinic: "There's a period of application where you can have, what is called, a look-alike clinic where you function as a clinic and establish your ability to run a clinic. It helps you score and qualify to get that FQHC designation," Mason told WUWM.
Mason said tens of thousands of low-income people in Racine qualify to go to a federally-backed clinic.
And, he said he wants to keep people out of a hospital. "The service now is an emergency room. And that's not good for everybody. It's the most expensive and least effective way to treat people. So, what we want to do is help provide a medical home," Mason said.
Evers said he's yet to announce plans for several hundred million dollars in ARPA funds coming to the state.