Rural Health Policy Update – May 2022

The White House recently unveiled their Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget request to Congress. Included in the budget request are:
  • $13 million for the State Offices of Rural Health (SORH) 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. NOSORH is asking all State Offices to contact their congressional delegation and ask for Congress to increase programmatic funding for the SORH program to $15 million in FY 2023.
  • $58 million for Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Grants. This request is $5 million less than the FY 22 enacted level. NOSORH is promoting with members H.R. 6400, the Save America’s Rural Hospitals Act, which includes a section reauthorizing the Flex program and increasing funding. NOSORH is looking to introduce a standalone Flex reauthorization bill this Congress.
  • $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. Congress is making behavioral health one of their priority healthcare issues this Congress.
The appropriations process should play out in Congress for the remainder of calendar year 2022. The deadline for Congress to pass FY 23 funding is September 30, 2022. However, given it’s a midterm election year, it’s almost certain Congress will not pass a spending bill until late November or early December.