Federal Update

 

Keep Up to Date!

Below is a selection of recent health policy and regulatory news and information relevant to health centers and PCAs. For regular updates, subscribe to Capital Link’s blog and access the following links:

NACHC’s Health Centers on the Hill and Policy Shop blogs

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s health center tab

The newsroom at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 

HHS Awards over $260 Million to Health Centers Nationwide to Build and Renovate Facilities to Serve More Patients

On May 4, 2016, HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced over $260 million in funding to 290 health centers in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico for facility renovation, expansion, or construction. These awards will allow health centers to renovate or acquire new health center clinical space to help provide care to over 800,000 new patients nationwide. This investment builds on the nearly $150 million awarded to 160 health centers from the Affordable Care Act’s Community Health Center (CHC) Fund for construction and/or renovation in September 2015. To view a list of the award winners, click here.

 

HHS Awards $94 Million to Health Centers to Improve Substance Abuse Services

On March 11, 2016, HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced $94 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 271 health centers in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to improve and expand the delivery of substance abuse services in health centers, with a specific focus on treatment of opioid use disorders in underserved populations. This investment is expected to help awardees hire approximately 800 providers to treat nearly 124,000 new patients. For more information on these awards, including a list of award winners, click here. 

 

Aligning Reporting of Clinical Quality Measures 

On February 18, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), as part of a broad Core Quality Measures Collaborative of health care system participants, released seven sets of clinical quality measures.  These measures support multi-payer alignment, for the first time, on core measures primarily for physician quality programs. This work is informing CMS’s implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) through its measure development plan and required rulemaking, and is part of CMS’s commitment to ensuring programs work for providers while keeping the focus on improved quality of care for patients. Learn more here.

 

New Access Point Funding Opportunity

HRSA recently announced the 2016 New Access Point (NAP) funding opportunity, which provides operational support for new primary health care service delivery sites. Subject to the availability of appropriated funds, HRSA anticipates awarding approximately $50 million to support an estimated 75 New Access Point awards in Fiscal Year 2017. The maximum annual funding that can be requested in a NAP application is $650,000.  NAP applications must be submitted via Grants.gov by June 17, 2016. Supplemental materials are due July 15, 2016. Awards will be announced prior to the Jan. 1, 2017 start date. The funding opportunity announcement and guidance can be found here

 

New Markets Tax Credit Program Update: CDFI Fund Combines 2015 and 2016 Rounds

On April 18, 2016, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) announced it is combining the calendar years 2015 and 2016 New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) allocation authorities into one allocation round and increasing the awards from $5 billion to $7 billion. The CDFI Fund will not re-open the combined 2015-2016 round for new applications. All allocation determinations will be made from the existing pool of applications submitted for the 2015 round. The CDFI Fund received 238 applications requesting an aggregate total of $17.6 billion in NMTC allocation authority. By combining the 2015 and 2016 allocation rounds, the CDFI Fund will be able to announce the allocation of New Markets Tax Credits in the year for which they are authorized, and will be able to help more communities access the benefits of the tax credits sooner. Currently, the CDFI Fund anticipates announcing the CY 2015 – 2016 NMTC Program allocations in late 2016. Read more here.

If your health center has a capital project on the horizon, now is the time to act! To find out how Capital Link can help your health center capitalize on this financing option, please contact Jonathan Chapman, Director of Community Health Center Advisory Services at 970-833-8513 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We expect to offer a series of NMTC readiness workshops and free technical assistance this summer, so let us know if you are interested in participating. Details will be announced shortly. 

To learn more about the NMTC program and how it works, access our resource Spotlight on Capital Resources: New Markets Tax Credit Program Update. Also note, we plan to release a new NMTC resource in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for our email announcement.

  

CMS Announces Funding Opportunity to Discover How Addressing Social Needs can Improve Health 

On January 5, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a new funding opportunity of up to $157 million to test whether screening for health-related social needs and facilitating navigation of community-based services will improve quality and affordability in Medicare and Medicaid. The goal of the five-year Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center program, called the Accountable Health Communities Model, is that beneficiaries struggling with unmet health-related social needs are aware of the community-based services available to them and receive assistance accessing those services. A link to the funding announcement can be found here.