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Press Releases - County Council

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Funding initiated by Councilmember Gabe Albornoz would create grant program for primary care medical and dental providers and provide $500,000 for Montgomery Cares and telehealth

ROCKVILLE, Md., July 21, 2020—Today the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a special appropriation of $3 million to help meet the medical and dental needs of County residents. The special appropriation earmarks $2 million in funding that would create a grant program, administered by the Department of Finance, to assist independent primary care medical and dental providers who serve county residents and are struggling financially due to office closures and reduced patient visits caused by Covid-19. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services would receive $500,000 to support the work of Montgomery Cares community clinics and provide services to residents who live in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. Moreover, $500,000 would be allocated for grants to provide additional access to healthcare by expanding telehealth or supporting medical innovations with a focus on reducing disproportionate health outcomes. These grants would be capped at $25,000 per provider and $50,000 for direct financial support.

“It is imperative that we support our primary care medical and dental practices to ensure that they remain stable during this pandemic,” said Councilmember Albornoz, who is chair of the Council's Health and Human Services Committee. “If many close at the same time, it will have a devastating impact on our public health infrastructure. This innovative component will help make certain that we provide increased holistic and improved care to County residents. We are also fortunate to have community clinics perform essential services in this arena, and we must support these efforts during this critical time.”

“In this unprecedented time of need, the health and well-being of our residents is paramount,” said Council President Sidney Katz. “We must support our medical and dental providers so that they can continue to contribute to the healing of our County. We are so fortunate to have many community partners who continue to step up in exceptional ways and we must assist them to the fullest extent possible.”

Primary care doctors, family practices and health clinics are essential components of the health care delivery model in Montgomery County. The pandemic has significantly impacted medical and dental services to County residents and has financially strained many medical and dental providers. The Commonwealth Fund reported that the number of visits to ambulatory practices across the U.S. declined by 60 percent from March 1 to early April. As of mid-May, patient visits were still approximately one-third lower than before the pandemic. In addition, a March 2020 poll from the American Dental Association shows that nationally 19 percent of dental practices had closed due to the pandemic and 76 percent were only seeing emergency patients.

“Independently owned medical and dental practices in Montgomery County are the backbone of our public health infrastructure,” said Maryland Delegate Emily Shetty. “They treat tens of thousands of patients, and are critical to our Covid-19 defense. We simply cannot let them fold in the middle of a pandemic, when we need them the most. This first-in-the-nation effort will help strengthen our response to the pandemic, while ensuring that practices that are delivering high-quality patient care in Montgomery County are able to continue to do so.”

Moreover, the Montgomery Cares program is a critical lifeline for numerous county residents, and service demands are increasing as a result of the pandemic. Community-based clinics provide access to health care for individuals with low incomes and without access to health insurance. The program provides medical check-ups, sick visits by doctors and nurses, medications, lab tests and more. Ten different health care agencies provide services through Montgomery Cares in more than 25 locations throughout the county. As a way to increase access to care, these clinics have implemented telemedicine appointments and continue to reach out to communities of color which have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19.

The Council staff report can be viewed here.


Release ID: 20-316
Media Contact: Lillian Cruz 240-777-7801