Gov. Ritter orders grant council |

Gov. Ritter orders grant council

'Many of our rural areas face a critical undersupply of health services'

— Gov. Bill Ritter issued an executive order Wednesday establishing the Colorado Rural Health Care Grants Council, which will distribute a $7.5 million charitable gift from UnitedHealth Group throughout the next six years.

“Many of our rural areas face a critical undersupply of health services,” Ritter said in a press release. “As Colorado communities continue to examine major health-care reform, we must strengthen our delivery systems in rural Colorado to ensure that all Coloradans have access to high quality, affordable health care – whether they live in Denver or Durango.”

UnitedHealth committed in 2006 to provide the $7.5 million. The money will help the state address deficiencies in access to health care for rural and underserved state residents.

The $7.5 million will allow the state to establish a grant program, giving rural health providers the opportunity to apply for funding. Executive order B-007-07 creates the Colorado Rural Health Care Grant Council, which will:

• Determine grant funding priorities and criteria.

• Issue requests for proposals initiate the grant-making process.

• Review applications and award grants.

• Monitor the effectiveness of the grants.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to be part of a public-private partnership to effectively address rural health issues and help thousands of rural Coloradans receive essential health care services,” said Elizabeth Soberg, chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare of Colorado. “UnitedHealth Group commits to work collaboratively as a member of the Colorado Rural Health Care Grant Council to improve access to health care for rural and underserved” state residents.

The governor will appoint members to the council.

Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien said the grant council, and the money it will have to work with, addresses a glaring need across the state.

“More than 770,000 Coloradans, including 180,000 children, lack health insurance,” O’Brien said. “Many of them live in rural Colorado. I want to thank UnitedHealth for their generous gift, which will go a long way towards addressing rural health care needs.”

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