A new grant fund that aims to fill gaps in rural Alaska health care is now open for applications. The deadline for this initial round of proposals is Jan. 24. 

The Premera Rural Health Care Fund supports access to quality health care through grants to providers in rural and remote Alaska communities. Eligible projects include medical and dental equipment, technology and vehicles, as well as ancillary equipment for emergency services, facility renovations, restorations and furnishings. Eligible providers include community health centers, outpatient clinics, Alaska Native- and tribal government-operated clinics and/or hospitals, critical access hospitals and sole community hospitals, located in rural and remote locations of Alaska.

Grants will be up to $100,000. Learn more and submit your application here

This time-limited grant program was established in late 2019 by Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, which has generously provided $3 million for the fund. It is being administered in partnership with Rasmuson Foundation and the Alaska Community Foundation. In all, Premera has committed $5.7 million to improve health care in rural Alaska. Premera participated in our 2018 Grantmakers Tour of Alaska, in which Outside funders are shown Alaska’s needs, challenges and successes. A Premera team then traveled in rural Alaska on a follow-up tour focused on health needs.

“We are glad to partner with Premera on this new grantmaking venture, specifically to serve the needs of rural Alaska, the small village clinics and critical access hospitals,” Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO, said when Premera announced the Rural Health Care Fund. She referenced a plane crash in Unalaska that cut off air service to the Aleutian Islands community. “It’s not uncommon for rural communities to be cut off from higher level medical service than available at home because of weather or other circumstances. The Premera partnership will enable local clinics to acquire the critical equipment they need as first responders. Lives will be saved.”

In October, Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield announced an investment of $5.7 million in Alaska including $3 million for the new Rural Health Care Fund. Pictured here are Andy Teuber, board chair and president of Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium; Alexandra McKay, Rasmuson Foundation vice president of programs; University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Cathy Sandeen; and, at the podium, Jeff Roe, Premera president and CEO.

In announcing the new Rural Health Care Fund, Premera cited a 2017 study from the National Rural Health Association. Researchers found that people living in rural areas suffer worse health outcomes than their urban counterparts. They are sicker, poorer and older and are more likely to experience higher rates of premature death, disability and chronic disease. In Alaska, more than 200,000 people, or about 32% of the state’s population, live in rural communities. With about 200 villages off the road system and only reachable by boat, aircraft, snowmachine or four-wheeler, the state faces unique challenges to providing timely and quality care for all its residents.

“We’re proud to support the work that Alaska organizations, the university and ANTHC are doing to serve the health care needs of Alaska’s rural communities,” said Jeff Roe, president and CEO of Premera Blue Cross. “Many of Alaska’s communities are hundreds of miles from a regional medical center, and in most rural communities there is not an adequate number of physicians, primary and mental health care providers and sufficient facilities. It is critical to invest in effective, long-term solutions to close the growing gap between urban and rural health care access.”

Contact

Please contact Dr. Gary Ferguson at Rasmuson Foundation with questions about the Premera Rural Health Care Fund.