Federal Update

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, or access NACHC’s blogs and the HRSA’s health center webpage.

FY18 Spending Package Signed into Law

March 22, 2018 – Congress passed a $1.3 trillion FY18 spending package that will fund the federal government through September 30, 2018, and the legislation was signed into law by the President.

The bill provides health centers with:

  • $1.626 billion (+$135 million) in discretionary 330 grant funding to expand quality primary care access at health centers across the country. Combined with the mandatory Community Health Center Fund, this brings the total funding for health centers in FY18 to $5.4 billion;

  • At least $200 million in Section 330 grant dollars directed towards quality improvement or service expansion grants to support behavioral health, mental health, or substance use disorder services; and

  • $20 million to replenish the Health Center Loan Guarantee Program, which, together with reprogrammed funds from the current program, will leverage up to $889 million in private loan activity. A future issue of Capital Ink will focus on new opportunities available to health centers through the updated and modernized Loan Guarantee Program.

The spending package also supports health center providers and workforce initiatives, including:

  • An additional $105 million to the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) to expand the delivery of substance use disorder treatment services. This brings the total FY18 spending for NHSC to $415 million (mandatory and discretionary);

  • Expanding NHSC loan repayment eligibility to substance use disorder counselors;

  • $100 million for the White House’s new Rural Communities Opioid Response program;

  • $114.8 million to replenish the FTCA judgement fund to ensure coverage for individuals serving at health centers against claims; and

  • Creating a new $350 million Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) fund, to provide relief to PSLF applicants who are ineligible due to choosing the wrong student loan repayment option.

More details are available here.


Reauthorization of USDA Community Facilities Grant Program

The FY18 spending package also reauthorized the USDA Community Facilities grant program, which health centers are eligible for, and authorized $5 million to be spent for “innovative projects to address the opioid epidemic in rural communities.” Read the USDA’s press release here.


HRSA Welcomes Feedback on UDS Reporting

The Uniform Data System (UDS) Modernization Initiative aims to reduce reporting burden, improve data quality and usage, and better reflect Health Center Program services and outcomes. An exciting new opportunity is now available for continuous stakeholder feedback on the UDS, in addition to the traditional Federal Register Notice process. Submit questions or provide feedback via the UDS Modernization Initiative webpage.