- Later this week, providers across the country will begin receiving additional COVID-19 federal relief funds, HHS announced on Wednesday. The agency is funneling $9 billion to more than 69,000 providers in all 50 states.
- The average payments will range from $58,000 for small providers to $1.7 million for large providers. The payments are meant to cover the period between July 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
- Smaller providers are expected to be reimbursed at higher percentages for their lost revenue and expenses as many of them entered the pandemic on worse financial footing compared to their larger peers, HHS said.
This latest disbursement of funds is particularly important for providers because it covers a period in which many providers experienced tremendous strain on their systems.
Federal relief funds meant to help providers weather the economic downturn appeared in bank accounts before some started to experience the worst effects of the outbreak. For many, hospitalizations spiked in the fall and winter months of last year, weighing heavily on hospital resources as they experienced exceeded capacity and struggled to care for the high volume of patients. Some operators previously said they had yet to see relief funds for this period.
Earlier this year, others expressed frustration that billions of dollars continued to sit in the federal relief fund that was meant to help prop up providers. The fund was created in March 2020 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
There have been other criticisms as well, including how regulators decided to dole out the funds. Analysis shows that much of the funding went to large systems sitting on considerable cash reserves, raising questions about whether the money was directed to those most in need.
But officials seemed to acknowledge those concerns and said in this phase four allotment it is "reimbursing a higher percentage of losses and expenses for smaller providers — which generally entered into the COVID-19 pandemic on worse financial footing, have historically operated on slimmer financial margins, and typically care for vulnerable populations — as compared to larger providers."
For this latest funding round, HHS said in September it planned to disburse a total of $25.5 billion, and directed providers to an online portal to apply for a chunk of the money.
As of Wednesday, HHS said it is still reviewing the remaining applications and expects to deliver the remainder of phase four payments next year but did not specify a more specific timeframe.