News | Coronavirus

Hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots to receive $10 billion more in federal aid

News | Coronavirus

Hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots to receive $10 billion more in federal aid

  • More than 1,000 hospitals in high-impact areas will get a share of $10 billion in new federal assistance.
  • The new payments will be $50,000 per COVID-19 admission, less than the $77,000 in an earlier round.
  • Hospitals with large Medicaid populations have until Aug. 3 to apply for a separate pool of funds.

Hospitals that recently have submitted information on large COVID-19 caseloads could start to receive a share of $10 billion in new federal assistance this week.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would begin sending payments July 20 to more than 1,000 hospitals in “high-impact” areas of the pandemic, based on the case count data they submitted in recent weeks.

That would add to the $10 billion HHS sent in May to hospitals that had more than 100 COVID-19 patients by April 10.

Hospitals will qualify for payments based on whether admissions between Jan. 1 and June 10 meet one of the following criteria:

  • More than 161 COVID-19 admissions
  • At least one COVID-19 admission per day
  • Higher than the national average ratio of COVID-19 admissions per bed

Amount of assistance reduced

The new round will pay $50,000 per COVID-19 admission, compared with $77,000 in the earlier high-impact round.

A senior HHS official said on a media call that the reduced funding is due to the number of such admissions surging from about 50,000 in the first round to more than 400,000 by the time of the second round.

The first-round payments went to 325 hospitals. The new round of payments will be “net from their payments — what they had already received” will be subtracted from their allocated total, the official said.

HHS is still evaluating some of the data hospitals submitted to receive the latest round of funding, so only $8.5 billion of the $10 billion is immediately ready for release. Hospitals will not need to submit more data to receive the new round of funding.

The latest round of distributions leaves only $50 billion unspent in the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund appropriated by Congress.

The administration plans to release additional rounds of funding for high-impact areas that have emerged since the June 10 cutoff for the newest funding, the HHS official said.

Unless Congress changes the statutory language in any future round of appropriated provider assistance, the HHS official said his department expects to continue splitting the assistance between broad funding for all providers and focused funding on organizations more affected by local outbreaks.

"All providers had been affected by the virus and the need for elective care to be discontinued,” the official said.

Medicaid provider eligibility

The official also urged Medicaid providers to apply for a pending round of $15 billion that will be focused on them.

In June, HHS opened an application period for providers that serve Medicaid patients but did not receive funding from earlier rounds, which were based on Medicare revenues or net patient revenues.

Although HHS since has held webinars, offered application assistance and encouraged providers to apply for the Medicaid funding, there is concern that not all eligible have applied.

To draw more applicants, HHS has extended the application deadline to Aug. 3.

 

About the Author

Rich Daly, HFMA senior writer and editor,

is based in the Washington, D.C., office. Follow Rich on Twitter: @rdalyhealthcare

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