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Analysis

HHS Releases $10B in Emergency Funding for Safety Net Hospitals

By John Commins  
   June 09, 2020

Another $10 billion is expected to be released soon to aid hospitals providing care in COVID-19 "hotspots."

The Department of Health and Human Services has released another $10 billion from the Provider Relief Fund, with this latest emergency package targeting safety net hospitals.

"Healthcare providers who focus on treating the most vulnerable Americans, including low-income and minority patients, are absolutely essential to our fight against COVID-19," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a media release.

Under the eligibility guidelines, the money is earmarked for hospitals with Medicare disproportionate payments of 20.2% or higher, with uncompensated care costs of $25,000 per bed over one year, and profit margins of 3% or less in their most recently filed Cost Report, HHS said.

Payments, which will range from $5 million to $50 million, are being sent directly to the safety net hospitals.

To date, HHS has provided more than $175 billion to aid appropriated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, to hospitals and other providers disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

HHS on Monday reminded hospitals that another $10 billion in emergency funding for hospitals serving in COVID-19 "hotspots" would soon be made available, but that hospitals would have to update their COVID-19 positive-inpatient admissions data from January 1 through June 10 to determine eligibility. Hospitals have until 9 PM ET on June 15 to update their records. 

The news of additional funding was greeting with hearty cheers from hospital stakeholders.

"Today’s announcement of $10 billion in additional funding for hospitals that provide safety-net care, as well as a future allocation of $10 billion for providers in COVID-19 hot spots, will help ease the financial pain this public health emergency has inflicted on these caregivers," said Bruce Siegel, MD, president and CEO of America's Essential Hospitals.

"We appreciate that the administration has recognized the severe pressures on front-line providers," he said.

Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, said his association was "pleased" with the new money, but suggested that more emergency funding may be needed.

"While we appreciate the emergency funds released by HHS to date, the AHA continues to urge the department to distribute substantial additional funds to hospitals and health systems in an expedited manner as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, hospitalizations continue to occur, and many Americans continue to forgo care, including primary care and other specialty care visits," Pollack said.

$15B for Medicaid and CHIP

Elsewhere, the Health Resources and Services Administration is distributing $15 billion from the Provider Relief Fund to Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program providers.

HHS said this latest round of funding will focus on Medicaid and CHIP providers who have not received money from the Provider Relief Fund General Allocation.

“We appreciate that the administration has recognized the severe pressures on front-line providers”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The $10B is earmarked for hospitals with DSH payments of 20.2% or higher, uncompensated care costs of $25,000 per bed, and profit margins of 3% or less.

Payments, which will range from $5 million to $50 million, are being sent directly to the safety net hospitals.

HRSA is also distributing $15 billion to Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program providers.


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