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One last round of Phase 4 Provider Relief Fund payments could be coming as soon as next week, signaling a completion of all payment determinations, according to Argentum.

Government Relations Director Dan Samson shared the news during an Argentum Advocates membership call on Wednesday, passing along information received from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources & Services Administration.

Providers that do not receive funds will have 45 days from the payment determination date to submit applications for reconsideration. 

HRSA also notified some providers of a one-time opportunity to apply for reissuance of PRF Phase 1 dollars. This opportunity applies to providers that received PRF payments between April and June 2020, did not submit timely period 1 reports and returned all of those PRF funds. 

Those late reporting requests must be submitted by Friday. More information can be found on the HRSA website.

Will assisted living be part of OSHA healthcare rule?

In other news, as the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration plans to roll out permanent healthcare employer requirements related to COVID-19 in September, Samson reiterated that Argentum opposes the rule and has asked that assisted living be exempted due to its personal care delivery model and limited role in the delivery of healthcare.

“We submitted numerous public comments and testified at a hearing before OSHA on this,” he said. “Hopefully, regulators heard our concerns and incorporate that into the rule when it’s released.”

Appropriations a focus now

With all COVID-19 relief funding discussions off the table, Argentum is turning its attention to the appropriations process to secure additional dollars for senior living providers, Samson said. 

Among the near-term priorities on which the association is focusing, he said, are increasing funding for the Department of Labor Closing the Skills Gap grant program and a “dramatically” scaled down version of the Build Back Better reconciliation legislation.

Argentum also is working to pass the Expanding Veterans Options for Long Term Care Act, which would create a pilot program to help veterans access assisted living. 

Samson also updated members on the Biden administration’s announcement earlier this month of the investment of $40 billion in American Rescue Plan funds in workforce development programs, the recent extension of the public health emergency, the launch of the new Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response to coordinate responses to pandemics and other health emergencies, updated federal guidance on employer use of COVID-19 testing to screen employees, a proposed rule to reinstate protections on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services regulations, and CMS’ first-ever release of quality measures for home- and community-based services.