- HHS said Friday it plans to funnel an additional $4 billion in COVID-19 aid to certain healthcare providers who may have been excluded from earlier, targeted distributions of funding meant to aid safety net and rural providers.
- Friday's announcement expands which facilities can qualify for targeted funding that was earmarked for safety net providers in funding allocated from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. After hearing from those in the field, a senior HHS official said the department found out that some safety net providers were missed in an earlier distribution of funding. This is designed to correct that.
- Plus, an additional $1 billion has been marked for providers with specialty rural designation or suburban facilities that may take care of a large rural population. It will also help hospitals in smaller metropolitan areas.
The nation is still struggling to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and the federal health agency is making plans to dole out additional funding in an attempt to keep providers whole — or at least stem further losses.
HHS' latest move is in addition to the previously promised $10 billion for safety net hospitals and $15 billion for those that primarily service Medicaid patients.
The department said it has been listening to the needs of the industry and has maintained an open line of communication in terms of what additional funding is needed.
A senior HHS official said the organization learned that some acute care hospitals did not qualify for the previous round of safety net funding even though they serve as critical safety-net facilities within their communities. Friday's announcement expands the definition of which facilities can qualify for those funds.
HHS revised the profitability threshold to be less than 3% "averaged consecutively over two or more of the last five cost reporting periods," HHS said in a release. The agency expects this will aid 215 facilities.
HHS is also aiming to target an additional $1 billion in funding to rural providers that may not have fit the previous designation.
"These may include some suburban hospitals that are not considered rural but serve rural populations and operate with smaller profit margins and limited resources than larger hospitals," HHS said in a release.
In total, $175 billion is earmarked for healthcare providers from Congressional relief packages. Of that, about $115 billion has been obligated to certain providers, a senior HHS official said Friday. However, not all providers have signed and attested to receiving those funds. They have 90 days to do so.
They could also decide to return the funds, which is what makes it difficult for the agency to say how much has gone out. However, $61 billion has been delivered and attested to, the official said.