The AHA today urged the Health Resources and Services Administration to quickly distribute the $17 billion in Phase 4 provider relief funds and $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds for rural providers, as well as reverse a new requirement that capital projects be fully completed before the deadline for using the funds.
“In addition to urgently needing new funding to assist with these challenges, hospitals need more flexibility to retain the funding they have already received,” AHA wrote.
Specifically, AHA said hospitals and health systems should be able to continue to use PRF money to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19 regardless of when they happened to receive a PRF payment.
In addition, just one month before the Sept. 30 deadline for the first PRF reporting period, HRSA announced that capital projects must be fully completed by the reporting deadline, a policy change AHA called “extremely challenging” during the ongoing pandemic.
“We strongly urge HRSA to reverse this change,” AHA wrote. “Further, we ask that it avoid making such wide-ranging modifications, which are announced late in the process (after many providers have already submitted their reporting), refute prior guidance, and disadvantage the most vulnerable hospitals, in the future.”
Among other comments, the association urged HRSA to establish an ongoing exception process to request reporting deadline extensions due to extreme and uncontrollable circumstances; provide additional funds that target the recent surges in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant; and allow hospitals that change owners to remain eligible for all future funding. 
The Department of Health and Human Services announced the $25.5 billion in Phase 4 PRF and ARPA funding Sept. 10. Providers will apply for both sets of funds through a single application process, which will open Sept. 29. 

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