First it was millions of dollars in transportation funds. Now it’s health information and training funds that won‘t be coming to Connecticut.
New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont were able to secure $138.5 million out of $1 billion in federal stimulus funds for health information technology and training entry level health care workers.
Connecticut received nothing during the first round of awards, which went to 40 other states.
Matthew Fritz, special assistant to the governor, said Monday that Connecticut did apply for these grants and anticipates $7.3 million in the second round of awards to help it develop its health information and technology network.
“We have not been shut out,” Fritz said. He said the second round of funding is expected to be announced sometime in March and Connecticut anticipates receiving some of that money for its health information technology exchange.
Even though Connecticut was rejected for the funds during the first round it was able to resubmit a more robust application, Fritz said.
However, Connecticut definitely won’t be receiving $4.997 million in funding to train entry level health care workers.
The application touted by Gov. M. Jodi Rell herself in this press release says the funds would have been used to build nursing ranks and other health care careers by providing more scholarships, affordable education and retraining opportunities to residents who are unemployed or working in low-income jobs.
“We were surprised and disappointed for sure,” Fritz said.
He said he spent time on the phone Thursday with the U.S. Department of Labor trying to figure out why the state wasn’t able to secure some of that funding.
“I’m not sure there is any rhyme or reason to it,” Fritz said.
Rep. Besty Ritter, co-chairwoman of the legislature’s Public Health Committee, said the administration’s inability to secure these funds in concert with Connecticut’s Congressional delegation is “continually frustrating.”
She said the training funds may have been able to help bring back the licensed practical nursing program that Rell cut at the end of last year.
“It’s truly disappointing that Connecticut has been unable to make its case,” Ritter said.
She said she expects that an analysis about why the state was unable to qualify for these funds will be presented to the legislature.
The state didn’t apply for one of the three categories of funding because as a state it didn’t qualify.
One category was only open to nonprofit organizations that support the development of regional exchange centers to help health professionals implement information technology.
Doug Arnold, executive director of Medical Professional Services, Inc., said e-Health Connecticut , a nonprofit focused on setting up a statewide health information exchange, has applied for a $6.9 million grant.
An estimated $375 million of the $1 billion in federal stimulus funds will be doled out to group’s similar to e-Health Connecticut, but those grants won’t be announced until next month.
News of the state’s failure to obtain health training funds comes just days after the Department of Transportation failed to secure $329.2 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Act funds.
There were $60 billion in applications and only $1.4 billion in TIGER funds awarded Fritz said. He said it’s possible Connecticut just didn’t meet some of the criteria.
In total Fritz said the state has applied for more than $8 billion in federal stimulus funds and has been awarded about $2 billion.