American Rescue Plan Provides $9 Billion for Rural Providers
Yesterday, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law. We are happy to report that the legislation includes a total of $9 billion for rural providers. Early versions and outlines of the American Rescue Plan did not meaningfully include rural providers and we sent a letter to Hill staff in February expressing our concerns about the lack of attention to rural health. Thankfully, due to the leadership of Senator Manchin (D-WV) and others, the final package did include significant funding for rural providers ~ including Rural Health Clinics.
The $9 billion for rural providers is broken out into two sections:
Sec. 1002. Emergency Rural Development Grants for Rural Health Care
$500 million to the Department of Agriculture for the creation of an emergency grant program. The program will award grants to non-profit health care providers in rural areas with lower than median incomes.
Grantees will be able to use the funds to pay for a variety of activities including: vaccine distribution, medical supplies, lost revenue, telehealth costs, and capital projects.
Sec. 9911. Funding for Providers Relating to COVID-19
$8.5 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services for rural health providers or suppliers including Rural Health Clinics “for health care related expenses and lost revenues that are attributable to COVID-19.”
This funding is similar to the Provider Relief Fund allocations RHCs and rural providers received last year but it is not the same. One major difference is that rural health providers will have to justify their need for additional funding in an application to HHS before they receive any money.
Furthermore, like the Provider Relief Fund money, this funding may not be used to reimburse for any expense or loss that “has been reimbursed from another source” or “another source is obligated to reimburse.”
In other words, rural providers seeking this funding will need to demonstrate that they are only using this funding for expenses that are not otherwise reimbursed.
The law does not specify a minimum or a maximum amount that qualified rural health providers may seek from this fund.
As you might imagine, both of these programs will need some time to be set up by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services respectively.
NARHC will monitor all developments and report relevant details to the RHC community as they become available.
The American Rescue Plan contains a number of other significant healthcare provisions which we encourage folks to review.
Director of Government Affairs
National Association of Rural Health Clinics