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Workforce Shortage Provisions Still in Play as Congress Finalizes “Human Infrastructure” Package

October 8, 2021

Congress Continues to Finalize “Human Infrastructure” Package, Path to Passage Remains Challenging

Congressional leaders in both the House and the Senate continue their efforts to finalize the broad “human infrastructure” package they will consider under the budget reconciliation process. Democratic party leaders hope to be able to hold a House vote on the package as soon as possible, with relatively quick Senate approval to follow, but the process remains complicated due to continued disagreement within the party on the final cost of the package and what should be included, and the timeline for final passage remains unclear.

Given the ongoing, acute workforce shortage, several provisions which are currently included or are being considered for the package that would help address this crisis are especially important. Lutheran Services in America continues to advocate for the following:

  • full funding of the provision permanently incentivizing states to deliver or improve home- and community-based service programs, including through increasing wages and benefits for direct care workers;
  • $1.48 billion for a grant program funding strategies to recruit and retain direct care workers; and
  • including the provisions of the WORK NOW Act to create a $50 billion grant program supporting nonprofits in paying wages and benefits.

Please join us in this effort through our advocacy alert.

Phase 4 Provider Relief Fund General Distribution and American Rescue Plan Rural Payments Available

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced $25.5 billion in new funding for health care providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes $17 billion in Provider Relief Fund Phase 4 funding for providers who have experienced changes in operating revenues and expenses, as well as $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan Rural funding for providers who provide Medicare, Medicaid, or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) services to rural beneficiaries. PRF Phase 4 payments will be based on providers’ lost revenues and expenditures between July 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. ARP rural payments will be made to providers based on the amount of Medicaid, CHIP and/or Medicare services they provide to patients who live in rural areas as defined by the HHS Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.

Providers may apply for both programs via a single application on the Provider Relief Fund Application and Attestation Portal that opened September 29 through the final deadline of October 26. Read more.

By Sarah Dobson, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy