$26.8B of COVID-19 relief fund remains unused, nonprofit says

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There is about $26.8 billion of unused money in the COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund and more could be on the way as providers return grants, according to an analysis from The Urban Institute, a nonprofit economic and social policy research organization.

For the analysis, published Oct. 26 and commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Urban Institute used the most recent publicly available information to review how the $178 billion relief fund was allocated into general and targeted distributions and paid to providers.

Three key findings:

1. The analysis found that $7.1 billion of the provider relief fund has not been allocated as of October, $11.7 billion was allocated but not spent and another $8 billion had been returned by providers.

2. Nearly three-quarters of the returned grants were from the general distributions. Phase 1 accounts for more than half of returned funds. The Urban Institute said the relief fund mightget more returned money in the near future as deadlines to use the funds lapse. HHS released guidance saying providers must spend their grants within a year or return the money.

3. The analysis also found that HHS allocated the most funds to providers in the phase 1 general distribution. In this phase, $46 billion was allocated to providers. HHS initially released $30 billion in phase 1 based on providers' share of total Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements. Providers did not need to apply for the funding; it was simply transferred to their accounts. This methodology sparked pushback as it reportedly disadvantaged many safety net hospitals that had a high population of patients on Medicaid. HHS then allocated $16 billion more to providers as a proportion of their net patient revenue.

Access the full report here

 

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