Health care providers across the country have incurred and continue to bear significant costs related to their response to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). As federal Provider Relief funds begin to dry up, it is important for eligible providers to be mindful of opportunities for reimbursement under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) Program.
This article (1) provides a brief background on FEMA’s PA Program (building on previous information and analysis provided in our articles Basics of FEMA Public Assistance Program Funding for the COVID-19 Pandemic, FEMA Public Assistance Program: COVID-19 Update and FEMA Public Assistance Program: New Interim Policy Applying to Eligible Work for COVID-19); (2) provides an update and timeline on the federal cost share applicable to eligible costs; and (3) discusses a recent draft policy released by FEMA that would establish important upcoming deadlines to submit Requests for Public Assistance (RPAs).
FEMA PA Background for COVID-19 PHE
On March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump issued proclamations declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak,1 invoking the National Emergencies Act2 and the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act).3 These declarations, including those subsequently issued for each state, authorize FEMA to provide eligible applicants funding under FEMA’s PA Program for Category B Emergency Protective Measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its PA Program, FEMA provides assistance to states, territories, tribes, local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations, such as hospitals.
Federal Cost Share Update
Historically, the federal cost share for reimbursement under FEMA’s PA Program has been not less than 75% of eligible costs incurred by the PA applicant, as required by the Stafford Act. However, on February 3, 2021, pursuant to a directive from President Joe Biden, FEMA announced that the federal cost share for the COVID-19 emergency was increased from 75% to 100% for eligible costs incurred from the beginning of the PHE on January 20, 2020, through September 30, 2021. On November 10, 2021, and March 1, 2022, FEMA issued a press release and an advisory further extending the time period for a 100% federal cost share until July 1, 2022. However, most recently, as a result of the enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, reimbursement for eligible costs incurred from July 2, 2022, until the end of the incident period will be reduced to a 90% federal cost share.
FEMA’s Draft Policy: Upcoming PA Program Deadlines
FEMA recently released for public comment a draft policy, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Public Assistance Programmatic Deadlines, that (1) would establish FEMA PA programmatic deadlines across all COVID-19 emergency and major disaster declarations, and (2) provides information on the application of the 100% and 90% federal cost shares applicable to FEMA PA reimbursement for the COVID-19 emergency. Public comments on the draft policy were due on May 24, 2022. As a result, it is anticipated that this new policy will become effective in the near term.
Preparing and submitting an RPA to FEMA confirming your eligibility to receive PA funding is a prerequisite to submitting your Streamlined Project Application for reimbursement of funds. RPAs are typically required to be submitted within 30 days after a federal disaster declaration is established or the incident period ends, whichever is later.4 However, given the unique nature of the ongoing PHE declared for COVID-19, on March 21, 2020, FEMA extended this requirement to remain open for the duration of the PHE unless an earlier deadline is appropriate.
It is important to note that the proposed draft policy would establish a July 1, 2022 deadline for the submission of an RPA for all COVID-19 declarations. Additionally, the draft policy would establish a December 31, 2022 deadline for the submission of the Streamlined Project Application for work completed during the time frame of January 20, 2020, to July 1, 2022. No deadline has been created for identifying and reporting COVID-19 emergency work performed after July 2, 2022, at the 90% federal cost share level.
In addition, as a result of the change in the federal cost share, the draft policy would require applicants to submit applications that separate costs incurred between January 20, 2020, and July 1, 2022 (which will be reimbursed at the 100% federal cost share level), from costs incurred July 2, 2022, and thereafter (which will be reimbursed at the 90% federal cost share level).
If you believe your organization may be eligible for FEMA PA Program funding, we encourage you to visit FEMA’s website to determine the local agency responsible for working with applicants to submit grants in order to confirm eligibility and begin the RPA process.
Please contact Meghan McNamara at email@example.com with any questions about FEMA funding. The agency is one of many resources available to help mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19. Manatt’s cross-disciplinary health care, corporate and finance team can guide you in identifying, applying for and accessing the funds for which your organization is eligible.
1 https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/DCPD-202000156/pdf/DCPD-202000156.pdf; https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-declaring-national-emergency-concerning-novel-coronavirus-disease-covid-19-outbreak/.
2 50 U.S.C. §§ 1601 et seq.
3 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121 et seq.
4 See FEMA Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide (PAPPG) (p. 24).