Passed through The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) via the 117th Congress, $195.3 billion dollars of the total $1.9 trillion dollar package has been allocated to states through The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF).
Although individual state circumstances will be different, highlighted below are examples of how the ARPA allocation process occurred in Delaware, Kansas, New Mexico and Vermont. We wanted to provide these examples as indicative of how nurses and the nursing community have been advocating to be included in these funds.
How Funds Have Been Awarded
While states formed varying types of committees to examine SLFRF requests, each state’s interpretation of its constitutional and statutory provisions that outline authority over unanticipated federal funds and authority to spend during a state of emergency vary greatly. Processes ranged from decision making solely vested in governors, in state legislatures or a hybrid/joint approach between the executive and legislative branches.
ARPA funds must be allocated by December 2024 and expended by December 2026 and were generally released in two rounds. States have earmarked a portion of these funds to cover payroll and benefits expenses for health care/public health employees, specifically “the portion of an employee’s time that is dedicated to responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency” per the US Treasury Department’s Final Rule (31 CFR Part 35. RIN 1505-AC77).
Capacity building, workforce expansion and associated infrastructure have been priority areas, with the use of ARPA funds increasing not only the number of current nursing students, albeit also enlarging the ability to hire faculty and train nurses across communities and practice settings. Specific utilization data can be found through the National Conference of State Legislature’s ARPA Funds Allocation Dashboard.
- Among other funds, Delaware received $500,000 from the state’s allocation to develop free, easy to access, evidence-based tools and programming for nurses coping with various issues exacerbated by the pandemic. Delaware’s State Clearinghouse Committee coordinates the ARPA process and consists of the Secretary of State, representatives from the House/Senate and the Director of the state’s Office of Management and Budget.
- Kansas announced a maximum of $50 million in available funding for hospitals to either provide premium pay or improve retention of nursing resources and support personnel, approved by the SPARK Executive Committee (comprised of the Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, President of the Senate and private sector representatives). This emergency funding provided immediate support for Kansas hospitals to manage the COVID-19 surge and addressed critical shortages in nurse staffing across the state.
- New Mexico’s Governor directed $15 million of ARPA funds to increase capacity and expand nursing training programs after meeting with the New Mexico Nurses Association and representatives from the wider New Mexico nursing community. 16 institutions received funding which cumulatively added slots for pre-licensure nursing students, developed tutoring to help students pass the licensure exam, retained nursing faculty and expanded clinical sites to rural communities.
- Vermont’s Governor signed legislation after advocacy from the Vermont Nurses Association, ultimately appropriating two million for emergency grants to support nurse educators, $400,000 for preceptorships $2.5 million for pipeline/apprenticeship programs as well as several million more in collective loan incentive and forgiveness programs.
ANA and our Constituent/State Nurses Associations will keep advocating as funding continues to be appropriated and released. Please feel free to reach out to Jason Richie, Associate Director for State Government Affairs and Policy at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or for more state specific details.