On Tuesday, November 23rd, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began distributing $7.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) Rural payments to providers and suppliers who serve rural Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicare beneficiaries. Maryland will receive $43,027,768.60 for 721 providers through HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra explained the necessity of this funding stream in a press release:
“Health care providers in rural communities have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and they continue to experience significant financial hardships,” said Secretary Becerra. “The infusion of these funds will be critical to ensuring rural communities maintain access to high-quality health care and addressing urgent needs like workforce recruitment and retention.”
The Administration explained the intended use of the ARP funds:
This funding will help health care providers keep their doors open, address workforce challenges, and make up for the lost revenues and increased expenses caused by the pandemic. Specifically, providers can use these funds for salaries, recruitment, or retention; supplies such as N95 or surgical masks; equipment like ventilators or improved filtration systems; capital investments; information technology; and other expenses related to prevent, prepare for, or respond to COVID-19. In the coming weeks, HHS plans to announce the first wave of PRF Phase 4 payments, and will continue processing the remaining ARP Rural applications, some of which require more extensive review to ensure program integrity.
The news comes as rural Maryland lags in COVID-19 vaccination rates and is still struggling with the opioid epidemic. According to the Biden Administration, “47 percent of rural providers were operating in the red pre-pandemic, and this Administration has heard from providers on the ground that the pandemic worsened this reality.” Health care providers receiving ARP Rural payments can be found here.