The 138 grants, totaling $13.4 million, are much more than the St. Louis-based insurer had anticipated. The company had announced $5.9 million in available grant money in an April 2 notice and had expected to issue close to 50 awards.
“Telehealth has emerged as an effective way for health care providers to care for their patients during this pandemic,” Brian Ternan, president and CEO of Health Net of California and California Health and Wellness, said in a press release. “As the state’s largest Medi-Cal managed care plan, we know doctors, nurses and clinicians serving our vulnerable patient population are struggling right now. Our goal was to think creatively and support providers funding quickly to help them build their telehealth capacity as soon as possible and care for those most in need.”
The grants target federally qualified health centers, safety net clinics and independent practices serving the state’s largest underserved population.
The money is primarily aimed at providers with limited telehealth infrastructure, and will be used for software and hardware infrastructure, licensing and vendor fees, Internet connectivity, training and technical assistance. Roughly 20 percent of the grantees have no telehealth services at all.
It will also be used to address a growing need for telemental health services, as the nation struggles to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. Money will be used to develop and expand connected health platforms treating Medicaid patients who are dealing with behavioral health concerns as well as substance abuse.
“This expedited funding from Health Net is absolutely needed on the front lines and will enable our physicians—particularly those in small practices and clinics—to stay connected and care for their patients through telehealth,” Dustin Corcoran, Chief Executive Officer for the California Medical Association, said in the press release.