- HHS said Friday it will make available $25.5 billion in COVID-19 relief funds that had already been earmarked for providers, who can begin applying for the funds on Sept. 29.
- About one-third of the money will be prioritized for rural providers who predominantly serve Medicaid, CHIP and Medicare patients.
- The remaining funds in this distribution, about $17 billion, will be earmarked for providers who can show they lost revenue and incurred additional expenses due to the pandemic.
Some providers have been anxiously waiting on additional disbursements from the provider relief fund that amassed billions of dollars in response to the pandemic.
HHS will soon open an application portal for providers to submit documents to capture a piece of what they're calling the phase four disbursement.
These funds will be based on lost revenues incurred between July 1, 2020, and March 31 of this year. That timeframe is important because many providers experienced peak hospitalizations or strain on their systems during the winter months and into this year.
Providers relief funding came fast and furious at the beginning of the pandemic, a time when some hospitals, depending on their location, had yet to experience the strain that would come in the fall and winter.
This disbursement will aim to cover some of the revenue losses sustained during that period. However, it appears this latest release will not allow providers to cover lost revenue incurred during the delta wave that washed over the country this summer.
How the funds have been divvied up also garnered criticism for going to hospitals with large cash reserves.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said this latest release will be distributed "with an eye towards equity, to ensure providers who serve our most vulnerable communities will receive the support they need."
In light of the turmoil caused by the delta variant, HHS said it's extending a 60-day grace period for the deadline on submitting documents on how providers spent relief funds. The deadline is now Sept. 30.