A total of $12 million in grant money is now available to help rural health-care providers establish “meaningful use” of electronic health record (EHR) systems.

The funding is a part of the Rural Health Information Technology Network (RHITN) Program, which is designed to expand access to, coordinate and improve the quality and delivery of health care in rural areas, according to the grant notice, which was published April 27. The notice estimates that 40 one-time awards will be given out at an average of $300,000 each.

The grant notice was published by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The deadline for applying is May 27.

Achieving meaningful use of EHRs is part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Electronic Health Records Incentive Program and includes components such as e-prescribing. Physicians implementing EHRs who can demonstrate meaningful use of the systems can receive reimbursements up to $65,000 from Medicaid, or as much as $44,000 from Medicare.

Eligible applicants for the RHITN grant funding include Native American tribal governments, nonprofit organizations with a 501(3)(c) status and entities that meet at least one of the following three requirements:

1.    The lead applicant organization must be located in a rural area or in a rural census tract of an urban county, and all services must be provided in a rural county or census tract. A network serving rural communities but whose applicant organization is not in a designated rural area will not be considered for funding under this announcement.

2.    The applicant organization exists exclusively to provide services to migrant and seasonal farm workers in rural areas and is supported under Section 330G of the Public Health Service Act. These organizations are eligible regardless of the urban or rural location of the administrative headquarters.

3.    The applicant is a tribal government that’s grant-funded activities will be conducted within its federally recognized tribal area.

In addition to the 50 states, applicants may be located in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and various other territories.