Better Late than Never — Congress Passes FY22 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
On March 9, Congress passed and the President signed into law, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022.  The bill funds the federal government through September 30, 2022.  Included in the bill was the establishment of a Rural Emergency Hospital Technical Assistance program, a significant increase in funding for the Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant Program (Flex), and continued funding for the State Offices of Rural Health (SORH) program.

Biden FY 2023 Budget Released
On the week of March 28, the White House unveiled their Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget request to Congress. The budget requests Congress provide a $26.9 billion increase in discretionary HHS funding. The FY 23 HHS budget request includes the relevant funding numbers for HRSA and rural health programs. Included in the budget request is:

  • $13 million for the State Office of Rural Health program. This request represents a $500,000 increase over the enacted FY ’22 level from the 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act which Congress passed in March.
  • $58 million for Rural Hospital Flexibility Grants. This request is $5 million less than the FY 22 enacted level. $10 million for the Rural Health Clinic Initiative. This is a new line in the Rural Health budget portfolio and is intended to allow Rural Health Clinics to fund the salary of a behavioral health provider, address provider burnout, and expand the availability of services such as mental health screenings, counseling and therapy.
  • $165 million for the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, an increase of $30 million above FY22 enacted.  This program supports substance use prevention, treatment and recovery services for opioids and other substance use in the highest risk rural communities.

It’s worth noting that every President’s budget is aspirational and not a requirement for Congressional authorizers and appropriators. However, the request sets the stage for the upcoming appropriations year with many offices and congressional committees paying attention to the President’s request.

NOSORH Activities
NOSORH will spend the coming months meeting with House and Senate appropriators in an effort to increase appropriations funding for both the SORH and Flex programs. In addition, NOSORH will also look to promote H.R. 6400, the Save America’s Rural Hospitals Act which includes a section reauthorizing the Flex program and increasing funding.