RHERC grant guidelines do not align with population needs

A new study by the East Tennessee State University (ETSU)/NORC Rural Health Equity Research Center finds that current block grant funding guidelines do not align with population needs, and states face additional challenges in actively taking steps to ensure that funding is allocated equitably.

Public Health Reports published “State Priority and Needs: The Role of Block Grants” online on November 4, 2023.

Dr. Casey P. Balio, Research Assistant Professor for ETSU’s Center for Rural Health Research in the university’s College of Public Health, is the study's lead author.  Stephanie Mathis, Michael Meit, and Kate Beatty, faculty in the ETSU College of Public Health, and Margaret Franciso, doctoral student, are co-authors.

“This paper was part of a larger project conducted through our Rural Health Equity Research Center, funded by HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, about how federal block grants funds are allocated and used, particularly the implications for rural communities,” said Balio. “In this study, our team looked at associations between state allocations and measures of state-level need. We found that allocations across five federal block grant programs are based on historic funding formulas, many of which no longer reflect the needs of states.”

The ETSU/NORC Rural Health Equity Research Center is a partnership of the ETSU Addiction Science Center, the ETSU Center for Rural Health Research, and the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis and is one of eight federally funded rural health research centers in the country.  

RHERC’s mission is to develop strategies and recommendations for policymakers, rural health care providers, and rural communities to mitigate the individual and community-level impacts of substance use disorder (SUD), improve access to health care and social services, and improve population health.

This study was funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Rural Health Research Grant Cooperative Agreement.

The full article can be found online in Public Health Reports.