Sep 1, 2022 - News

Hospitals approved for American Rescue Plan aid

Illustration of a heart rate monitor screen with the line forming a red cross.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Some Arkansas hospitals are on life support.

What happened: A governor-appointed steering committee recommended $60 million of the state's American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money be used to help hospitals on the verge of demise remain open for business.

  • The positive vote from the committee came Wednesday along with 10 other health care-related projects, valued at a combined $114 million.

Why it matters: Rising costs and labor shortages have put some Arkansas hospitals in a severe financial crunch. Several hospitals, especially those serving rural communities, are in immediate danger of closure, according to the Department of Human Services' request to the steering committee.

  • The document didn't provide details about which or how many hospitals are in need.

Details: To be eligible for emergency funds from DHS, the agency will require a hospital show it is in "immediate jeopardy" of closure by having less than 90 days of cash on hand and insufficient assets to cover its liabilities.

  • Within 90 days of receiving the money, the hospital will have to provide DHS with a detailed plan for financial sustainability.
  • There will be a $10 million cap for each hospital.
Data: Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

By the numbers: Other projects approved by the steering committee include:

  • $10 million to support up to 52 rural hospitals as part of the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership, mostly in the southeastern part of the state.
  • $5 million to provide training of teams working in the state's behavioral health agencies to benefit children and adults with mental health needs.
  • $9.6 million will help build a 90-bed facility in Little Rock for Women & Children First, the state's largest domestic violence shelter.

Seven of the projects approved, valued at a combined $29.8 million, were for colleges and technical schools across the state.

  • The money will help pay for construction projects or ventilation upgrades to facilities that either impact the health of the students or bolster existing health care study programs.

Context: It's the second time in a month the committee met. Previously, the group approved $300 million for water projects and $9 million to pay for additional state prosecutors and public defenders.

  • In all, the group approved spending more than $423 million from the state's total of $1.57 billion in ARPA funds in August.
  • The money must be spent on one of eight criteria, including the public health response to COVID-19 and addressing health care needs exacerbated by the pandemic.

What we're watching: Arkansas' ARPA money left for allocation is roughly $452 million.

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