HHS Announces Additional COVID-19 Funding Allocations

July 10, 2020

This afternoon, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced approximately $3 billion in funding to “hospitals serving a large percentage of vulnerable populations on thin margins” and approximately $1 billion to specialty rural hospitals, urban hospitals with certain rural Medicare designations, and hospitals in small metropolitan areas.

“We've been distributing the Provider Relief Funds as quickly as possible to those providers who have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “President Trump is supporting hospitals in continuing to provide COVID-19 care and returning to everyday procedures, especially hospitals that serve vulnerable and minority populations. Close work with stakeholders informed how we targeted this new round of funds to hard-hit safety-net and rural providers.”

In announcing the additional Provider Relief Fund payments to safety net hospitals, HHS said: “We learned some acute care hospitals did not qualify for funding from [the] initial [funding] announcement. HHS is now expanding the criterion for payment qualification so that certain acute care hospitals meeting the revised profitability threshold of less than of 3 percent averaged consecutively over two or more of the last five cost reporting periods, as reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in its Cost Report filings, will now be eligible for payment. HHS expects to distribute over $3 billion across 215 acute care facilities, bringing the total payments for safety net hospitals from the Provider Relief Fund to $12.8 billion to 959 facilities.” According to HHS, nine providers in Illinois and Wisconsin will receive $130.5 million in this allocation.

In addition, HHS said that it is expanding the existing payment formula for rural healthcare providers to include certain special rural Medicare designation hospitals in urban areas as well as others who provide care in smaller non-rural communities: “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. They too, have suffered in this pandemic, which is why HHS is responding. HHS estimates the funding announced today will provide relief of over $1 billion to 500 of these hospitals with payments ranging from $100,000 to $4,500,000 for rural designated providers and $100,000 to $2,000,000 for the other providers.” HHS says 18 Illinois providers will receive $43.8 million in this allocation.

IHA will provide more information to members about these funding allocations as further details become available.