American Rescue Plan Act: Key Takeaways for Rural Healthcare Providers
Emily Wilson | May 19, 2021
Additional aid was issued to rural healthcare providers following the approval of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a $1.9 trillion bill in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, passed by Congress on March 11, 2021. Eligible providers in rural communities will soon have an opportunity to apply for funding to assist with COVID-related expenses and lost revenues not reimbursed or obligated to be reimbursed by another source.
Healthcare providers are eligible for funding if they are a Medicaid or Medicare provider that has provided testing, care or diagnoses for actual or possible cases of COVID-19. The provider must be considered a rural healthcare provider, which is defined as a provider that is:
- Located outside a metropolitan statistical area (MSA)
- Located in a rural census tract of an MSA
- A rural health clinic
- Any other rural provider that the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has defined as such
The ARPA funding is similar to the Provider Relief Fund, however, there are differing requirements. To receive funding from the $8.5 billion appropriated under HHS, providers will be required to submit applications that must include:
- Statement justifying the need for funding
- Tax identification number of the provider
- Documentation of reports as determined by the Secretary
HHS has not yet developed a process for eligible providers to apply for ARPA funds.
As part of the ARPA, HHS announced on May 4, 2021 the availability of approximately $1 billion for rural COVID response. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) intends to provide more than $460 million to 4,600 rural health clinics (RHCs). HRSA will issue funds during the summer where each RHC-certified clinic will receive up to $100,000. An additional $398 million will be provided to small rural hospitals (those with fewer than 50 beds and Critical Access Hospitals). These funds are to increase COVID-19 testing and expand accessibility to resources for rural residents.
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