RHCs Receive $100,000 for COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Activities
Resources Available Now to Help You Best Use the Funding
Sarah Hohman, NARHC Government Affairs Associate
In early June, as a result of the American Rescue Plan, the federal government distributed $424.7 million to over 4,200 eligible RHCs as part of the Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation (RHCCTM) Fund. In late summer, the federal government will provide an additional $35.3 million in funding to RHCs who did not receive the June allocation but have since become eligible.
The National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC) is excited about this infusion of resources to rural health clinics and sees it as a thoughtful recognition of the impact RHCs have had on their communities throughout COVID-19. This demonstration by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) signifies their understanding of the essential work that RHCs do as they seek to continue providing quality, cost-effective healthcare to underserved communities. It is also a testament to RHCs retaining their status as trusted health care access points within rural, underserved communities across the country.
This funding builds upon the success of the RHC COVID-19 Testing funding allocated in 2020. “RHCs have reported over 12 million COVID-19 tests performed from May 2020-June 2021,” said Bill Finerfrock, National Association of Rural Health Clinics Executive Director. “Due to your diligent use and reporting throughout the past year, HRSA recognized a continued need to fund both testing and mitigation efforts.”
The RHCCTM Program will allow RHCs to maintain and increase COVID-19 testing efforts, expand access to testing, and expand the range of mitigation activities. At this critical turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic, NARHC and HRSA hope that this funding will encourage and empower you to continue your important and successful initiatives, while also tackling mitigation initiatives. These initiatives have the potential to reduce COVID-19 impacts as well as the burden of other present and future infectious diseases. We will continue to provide support and share best practices to ensure that the funding is spent in smart and effective ways to help you best serve your communities.
What is mitigation? How should RHCs use this funding?
Mitigation includes efforts, activities, and strategies to reduce or prevent local COVID-19 transmission and minimize morbidity and mortality of COVID-19 throughout your communities. This includes case investigation, contact tracing, screening, post-COVID conditions management, community education, maintenance of healthy environments, and much more. There are countless allowable expenses that fall within the following categories:
COVID-19 Testing Expenses
COVID-19 Mitigation Expenses
COVID-19 Testing-Related Expenses
COVID-19 Mitigation-Related Expenses
HRSA has provided lists of allowable expenses to generate ideas for best use of the RHCCTM funding but is aware that RHCs know the needs of their communities best! The Terms and Conditions for this program explain that expenses can be indirect or direct but must be “reasonably related to the provision of COVID-19 testing or COVID-19 mitigation activities.”
It is important to remember the differences between the RHCCTM program and the RHC COVID-19 Testing program timelines as it relates to use and reporting. You can review those important dates here.
The reporting requirements for the RHCCTM funding are the same as those for the RHC COVID-19 Testing Program. Total test and positive test numbers must be reported monthly on RHCcovidreporting.com until the end of the relevant funding timeline. You are not required to upload receipts or otherwise demonstrate how you utilized the funding; however, these records must be adequately maintained as your organization may be audited. Additionally, if your organization expended $750,000 or more in annual federal awards you must obtain a Single Audit.
Note: this reporting is different than reporting required for the Provider Relief Fund, the portal for this opened July 1, 2021.
Resources and Technical Assistance
On June 29th, NARHC and the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) hosted a webinar titled