HHS unveils plan to deliver $40B in COVID-19 aid to hospitals

HHS provided details April 22 about how and when the remaining funding designated for hospitals and other healthcare providers in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act will be distributed. 

The CARES Act includes a $100 billion emergency fund to reimburse healthcare providers for expenses or lost revenue related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first $30 billion was delivered between April 10 and April 17 based on historical share of Medicare revenue. "This simple formula, working with the data we had, was used to get money out the door as quickly as possible," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. 

Children's hospitals and other healthcare providers that have a relatively small share of revenue coming from Medicare will receive more funding when HHS begins delivering the next $20 billion in grants on April 24. The agency said the payments will go out on a rolling basis as providers' revenue information is validated. 

HHS is also distributing $10 billion in funds to hospitals in areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. To apply for these funds, hospitals must submit several pieces of information, including the total number of patient admissions with a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 from Jan. 1 to April 10. HHS said it will take into consideration the challenges faced by hospitals serving a significantly disproportionate number of low-income patients when distributing these funds. 

New York, the state with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths, will receive a large chunk of the funding targeted at hot spots. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said April 21 that the state will receive $4.3 billion of the $10 billion available. 

Rural hospitals and clinics, most of which operate on thin margins, will also receive additional support. HHS said $10 billion will be allocated to these facilities based on operating expenses. The money will be delivered as early as next week. 

HHS is allocating $400 million for Indian Health Service facilities and providing additional funding for skilled nursing facilities, dentists and providers that solely take Medicaid. A portion of the relief funds will also be used to reimburse hospitals, at Medicare rates, for providing treatment to uninsured COVID-19 patients. 

The CARES Act was the third emergency funding bill signed into law to combat the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. An interim funding bill, which includes an additional $75 billion for hospitals, was passed by the Senate April 21 and is expected to be approved by the House April 23. 

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