Dec 2, 2022 - News

Arkansas health care and broadband get ARPA nod

Illustration of a health plus-shaped price tag with dollar signs printed on it.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Arkansas' American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Steering Committee on Thursday gave its OK for $91.9 million in ARPA funding to advance various health care-related projects.

Why it matters: The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated inadequacies, stress points and financial issues in Arkansas' health care system.

By the numbers: The state received $1.57 billion in 2021, which must be spent on one of eight criteria, including for public health. The committee recommended these plans be funded:

  • $47.25 million to renovate nursing school facilities, buy educational equipment, raise faculty compensation and help economically disadvantaged students.
  • $30 million for a substance abuse prevention plan to help treatment centers upgrade facilities, expand services and add beds.
  • $8.4 million for a domestic violence prevention plan.
  • $6.25 million to help reopen a Sevier County medical center in southwest Arkansas, which has been without an acute care hospital since 2018.

Yes, and: The committee received some updates on previously discussed projects, notably one for $60 million to prop up struggling rural hospitals.

Separately, the committee was required to review and approve a plan to expand broadband across the state. The money — $158 million — comes from the capital projects fund directly from the U.S. Treasury and was not part of the steering committee's $1.57 billion bucket.

The bottom line: About $400 million of the state's ARPA funds were yet to be allocated before the steering committee met Thursday.

What's next: The ALC review committee will have to approve funding of the projects before sending them to the full ALC for approval. The review committee is scheduled to meet Dec. 13.

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