The American Rescue Plan provided billions of dollars in funding to stimulate the economy and help the United States recover from the pandemic.
Contained within this legislation is a program that gives municipal governments money to disburse in their local communities. The guidance on spending these funds has consistently called out not-for-profit senior living and healthcare providers as being specifically eligible to receive funds.
Originally, it was clear that capital upgrades, such as IT infrastructure, HVAC improvements, and infection control and prevention systems were all qualifying expenditures. But, the most recent clarifying guidance from the United States Treasury has opened the door to a new way to use funds – recruitment and retention of front-line workers.
As noted in the Federal Register:
“Small Businesses and Non-profits. As discussed above, small businesses and non-profits faced significant challenges in covering payroll, mortgages or rent, and other operating costs as a result of the public health emergency and measures taken to contain the spread of the virus. State, local, and Tribal governments may provide assistance to small businesses to adopt safer operating procedures, weather periods of closure, or mitigate financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 public health emergency, including:
- Loans or grants to mitigate financial hardship such as declines in revenues or impacts of periods of business closure, for example by supporting payroll and benefits costs, costs to retain employees, mortgage, rent, or utility costs, and other operating costs;”
The clarification goes on to say:
“Since the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency in January 2020, essential workers have put their physical wellbeing at risk to meet the daily needs of their communities and to provide care for others… These workers, in particular, have borne a disproportionate share of the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Such workers include:
- Staff at nursing homes, hospitals, and home care settings;”
For aging services providers, this is an incredible opportunity to apply for funding that could attract workers in key areas. Incentive programs like sign-on and retention bonuses, as well as additional training opportunities for staff, could qualify for funding – IF it is presented in the right manner to comply with the legislation.
How does an organization apply for American Rescue Plan funds? That’s where it gets tricky. This program was designed to be administered entirely on the local level. There is no national clearinghouse or universal form for application. Each local municipality is permitted to handle and grant funding requests however they’d like - if it meets the minimum standards provided by the United States Treasury.
Successfully receiving funds comes down to knowing who and how to ask.
“This new guidance is a game-changer for providers,” says David Anthony, a Municipal Consultant with LW Consulting, Inc. (LWCI). “The biggest issue facing every healthcare organization today is recruitment and retention of front-line talent. Based on the latest guidance, I am confident that providers could make a compelling case to local officials that meets with the requirements of the legislation and improves qualify of life for residents and team members at retirement communities.”
To learn more about how LWCI can help you, set up a 15-minute discussion with one of our experts, Deborah Alexander, Director, CHC, CHPC, PMP, DPT, MED, STC, CSCS.