HHS will distribute $25.5 billion in COVID-19 provider money, including $8.5 billion from the American Rescue Plan for rural providers and $17 billion from the general Provider Relief Fund. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will begin disbursing funds on September 29.
- Announcement: HHS stated in the release that Phase 4 Provider Relief Funds will go to smaller providers “who tend to operate on low margins and frequently serve vulnerable or isolated regions” to support equity. However, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020 requires providers to show revenue losses and expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic between July 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021.
- Funding: “This funding critically helps health care providers who have endured demanding workloads and significant financial strains amidst the pandemic,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in an announcement on Friday. “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.”
- Extra payments: Additionally, extra payments will be made to providers who serve Medicaid, CHIP, or Medicare patients in Phase 4. According to HHS, these individuals have lower incomes and have more severe and complex medical needs. Bonus payments will be “usually larger” than Medicare reimbursement rates to mitigate the losses.
- Servitude: Similarly, monies under the American Rescue Act will go to rural clinicians who serve the same populations—Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare beneficiaries—with the exception that they must live in rural areas as defined by the HHS Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Medicare reimbursement rates will also be used to pay the COVID-19 provider funding.
- Confrontations: “We know that this funding is critical for health care providers across the country, especially as they confront new coronavirus-related challenges and respond to natural disasters,” said Acting HRSA Administrator Diana Espinosa. “We are committed to distributing this funding as equitably and transparently as possible to help providers respond to and ultimately defeat this pandemic.”