HHS: $25.5 billion available in COVID-19 provider funding

The funds are available for practices impacted by the pandemic.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says that $25.5 billion in COVID-19 provider funding is available for those affected by the ongoing pandemic.

According to a news release from the agency, the funding includes $8.5 billion from American Rescue Plan (ARP) resources for rural providers who serve Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Medicare patients as well as nearly $17 billion in Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 resources. The funds will be disbursed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

"This funding critically helps health care providers who have endured demanding workloads and significant financial strains amidst the pandemic," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra says in the release. "The funding will be distributed with an eye towards equity, to ensure providers who serve our most vulnerable communities will receive the support they need."

The Phase 4 payments will be based on the physician’s lost revenues and expenditures between July 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Smaller practices will see reimbursement at a higher rate than larger organizations. The funding will also include bonus payments for practices which serve Medicare, Medicaid, and/or CHIP patients and the bonus payments will be priced at the generally higher Medicare rate, according to the release.

Likewise, the HRSA will make ARP rural payments based on the amount of Medicaid, CHOP, and/or Medicare services practices provide to patients living in rural areas. These funds will also generally be based on the Medicare reimbursement rates, the release says.

"We know that this funding is critical for health care providers across the country, especially as they confront new coronavirus-related challenges and respond to natural disasters," Acting HRSA Administrator Diana Espinosa says in the release. "We are committed to distributing this funding as equitably and transparently as possible to help providers respond to and ultimately defeat this pandemic."

Both programs can be applied for in a single application and the HRSA will use existing Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare claims data in calculating payments. The application portal will open on Sept. 29, according to the release.

More information can be found here.