Temporary prioritization of rural health assistance
Authority to temporarily prioritize certain rural development applications
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary, after consultation with such public health officials as may be necessary, may announce through a Federal Register notice pursuant to section 553(b)(3)(B) of title 5 a temporary reprioritization, on a national or multistate basis, for certain rural development loan and grant applications to assist rural communities in responding to a significant public health disruption.
Public health disruption
For the purposes of this section, the term “public health disruption” means an unanticipated increase in mortality or morbidity in rural communities, when compared to non-rural communities, caused by identifiable events, actions, or behavioral trends, which can be remediated by the programs of the Rural Development mission area. When measuring a public health disruption, the Secretary may analyze data on a national or multi-state basis.
Content of announcement
In the announcement, the Secretary shall—
(1) describe the nature of the public health disruption, including the causes, effects, affected populations, and affected States;
(2) explain how the programs of the Department of Agriculture will work in remedying the public health disruption;
(3) identify the services, treatments, or infrastructure best suited to address the public health disruption;
(A) the start and end dates of the reprioritization;
(B) the programs subject to reprioritization and the modifications to the application process;
(C) the process for making reprioritizations for applicable programs;
(D) the amount of funds set-aside for applicable programs, except that a set-aside for such a program shall not be greater than 20 percent of the amounts appropriated for the program for the fiscal year involved; and
(E) the region in which the reprioritization is in effect; and
(5) instruct program administrators to implement the reprioritization during the application window or announcement after the announcement takes effect.
Limitations on reprioritizations
When announcing the reprioritization, the Secretary shall—
(1) establish an initial total time period of less than 4 years, except as provided for in subsection (e);
(2) implement only 1 nationally applicable reprioritization at a time;
(3) implement only 1 regionally applicable reprioritization per State at a time; and
(4) not use reprioritizations to allocate additional funds to an affected State.
The Secretary may extend an announcement under subsection (a) for no more than 6 years in total, except that nothing shall prevent the Secretary from renewing reprioritizations by making a new announcement under subsection (a).
Rescinding the announcement
The Secretary may rescind a reprioritization announcement made under subsection (a) at any time the Secretary determines that the temporary reprioritizations are no longer needed or effective.
Not later than 48 hours after making, extending, or rescinding an announcement under this section, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Agriculture of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry of the Senate, and transmit to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a written notice of the declaration, extension, or rescission.
(Pub. L. 92–419, title VI, § 608, as added Pub. L. 115–334, title VI, § 6101(b), Dec. 20, 2018, 132 Stat. 4727.)