Non-Rural Providers Can Qualify for American Rescue Plan’s Rural Fund

Large healthcare systems that serve rural patients, not just providers located in rural areas, are eligible for a piece of the $8.5 billion in COVID-19 stimulus funding set aside for rural grants that the Health and Human Services Department announced it was distributing under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) earlier this month. Eligibility for the funding is based on whether patients, not the providers, are rural. Providers must either be located in or serve patients who live in rural areas and have billed Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program between January 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. Including providers who serve rural patients, as well as those located in rural areas, opens the ARP funding door to large urban providers that treat rural patients. The ARP defines a rural provider as being located in a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) with fewer than 500,000 residents, but the Health Resources and Services Administration has implemented the CARES Act in way that focuses on the MSA location of the patient, rather than the provider.