By Abigail Pinkele
On January 16th, the Health Resources and Services Administration released the FY13 Affordable Care Act New Access Point (NAP) funding opportunity announcement. The full announcement can be viewed here.
In keeping with the President’s FY13 budget proposal, the NAP guidance does not utilize the full $300 million in funding available under the Health Center Trust Fund under the Affordable Care Act for FY13. Instead, the guidance solicits applications to award $19 million in funding to support 25 NAP awards and proposes holding back $281 million in funding. Even though the full $300 million in the Health Center Trust Fund is available for HRSA to spend in FY13, absent legislative completion, HRSA will not allocate the funding.
We view this funding opportunity as a first step in the FY13 NAP process and the NAP announcement underscores the importance to completion of the FY13 appropriations process in Congress. As the announcement states:
Subject to the availability of appropriated funds, HRSA anticipates awarding approximately $19 million to support approximately 25 NAP grant awards in FY 2013. Pending the final Health Center Program appropriation funding level, HRSA may adjust the amount of funding and number of awards available under this funding opportunity announcement.
This leaves the door open to a second round of NAPs later in the year if Congress is able to come to an agreement on FY13 funding.
You will recall from our previous blog, the Senate FY13 appropriations bill allocated a total of $3.1 billion in funding for health centers, and required that HRSA utilize the full $300 million increase immediately and expend it by September 30, 2013, and allocated $48 million (of the full $300 million) for current health center base grant adjustments- a 1.7 percent funding increase for existing health centers. This was a huge win for health centers and a testament to the efforts of our grassroots.
Unfortunately, the FY13 appropriations process was left unfinished at the end of the 112th Congress and we are currently operating under a continuing resolution (CR) until March 27th, 2013. This means new Congress will have to start over again with the FY13 process. We will also need to renew our focus on completion of the FY13 process by continuing to advocate for full funding for the Health Centers Program along with the text requiring the $300 million increase be used in FY13- without that text it is unlikely more than 25 NAPs will be awarded in FY13. If Congress adopts the Senate approach, however, both existing health centers and communities waiting for care stand to gain considerably.
With the CR set to expire at the end of March, movement on FY13 funding is expected sometime in the near future. Health Center Advocates should use this time to contact Members in the House and Senate to remind them or educate them on our FY13 LHHS appropriations request and make sure they are aware that health centers are ready and able to put that funding to use immediately. Advocates should also be on the lookout for targeted action alerts in the upcoming weeks. Your action on these alerts will be critical in our efforts to ensure health centers receive full funding in FY13.