HHS releasing $25B+ in COVID-19 relief aid to hospitals

After mounting pressure from medical groups and lawmakers, HHS is releasing $25.5 billion in COVID-19 relief aid to hospitals and other providers.

The funds being released include $8.5 billion from the American Rescue Plan for rural healthcare providers and an additional $17 billion for providers who can document revenue loss and expenses attributable to the pandemic.

"This funding critically helps healthcare providers who have endured demanding workloads and significant financial strains amidst the pandemic," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a news release. "The funding will be distributed with an eye towards equity, to ensure providers who serve our most vulnerable communities will receive the support they need."

HHS said it plans to allocate the $17 billion in funds to smaller providers who often operate on thin margins.

The decision to release the funds comes after the American Hospital Association and lawmakers penned letters urging HHS to distribute the unused funds. 

In an Aug. 17 letter, the AHA said hospitals and health systems are finding "their resources — human, infrastructure and financial — are being stretched to the brink" amid the latest COVID-19 surge.

In addition, Republican lawmakers urged HHS in a Sept. 2 letter to provide a plan and timetable to disburse the money, saying it's been 11 months since the last release, according to The Wall Street Journal

"It is baffling to us that the department has failed to even promulgate a plan to distribute those funds to hospitals and providers disproportionately impacted by the current wave of Covid-19 cases," the letter to HHS from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP senators.

A bipartisan group of senators also sent a letter Aug. 26 saying hospitals were still waiting for relief announced last year. 


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