Coronavirus: HHS releasing $24.5 billion in physician relief funding

December 17, 2020
Keith A. Reynolds

After a review of phase three applications, the department will release $4.5 billion more than initially anticipated.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has begun distributing $24.5 billion to more than 70,000 healthcare providers as part of the phase three of the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) program.

According to a news release, HHS initially planned to release $20 billion in PRF funds. The additional $4.5 billion will be distributed to satisfy nearly 90 percent of each applicant’s reported lost revenue and change in expenses due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the first part of 2020.

The distributions have already begun and will continue through January 2021, the release says.

“HHS is providing more than $24 billion in new relief to more than 70,000 healthcare providers, meeting close to 90 percent of the losses they’ve reported from the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of the year,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar says in the release. “With the Provider Relief Fund, we’ve been able to support providers hardest hit by COVID-19, including safety net hospitals, rural providers, and nursing homes, helping ensure they can continue serving their communities during and beyond the pandemic.”

The PRF program was designed to be agile and responsive to the pandemic, as such the phase three distribution was enhanced to consider the actual revenue losses and expenses to physicians attributable to the pandemic, the release says.

The release notes that more than 35,000 applicants will not receive any additional payment because they either experienced no change in revenue s or net expenses due to COVID-19, or they gave already received funds equal or exceeding 88 percent of reported losses.

A state-by-state breakdown of the first batch of phase three payments can be found here.