Xavier Becerra
HHS Secretary Xavier_Becerra

The federal government is delivering $560 million in Provider Relief Funds to COVID-impacted healthcare providers starting this week. 

The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday the additional payments are part of the Phase 4 general distribution and will be awarded to more than 4,100 providers this week. 

Overall, the agency has doled out about $11.5 billion in Phase 4 payments to more than 78,000 providers. Prior to this, HHS in late January made an additional $2 billion in Provider Relief Funds available to help with COVID-related expenses.

Approximately 86% of all Phase 4 applications have now been processed, and remaining applications will continue to be processed throughout early 2022, according to the agency.  

“Provider Relief Funds have been a lifeline for healthcare providers across the country,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement Thursday. “From providing life-saving care to tackling workforce challenges, these funds will help many healthcare facilities weather the pandemic’s continued impact.”

Phase 4 payments also reimburse smaller Medicare and Medicaid providers for their lost revenues and increased expenses at a higher rate compared to larger providers.

The latest distribution announcement, however, isn’t a new infusion for long-term care, as was requested by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living earlier this week in a letter to Congress. The association referred back to its letter following Thursday’s distribution announcement. 

The association requested that upcoming appropriation bills replenish the Provider Relief Fund with $20 billion allocated specifically to long-term care — $10 billion for skilled nursing and $10 billion for assisted living facilities.

“More than half of nursing homes were limiting new admissions in recent months — at a time when overwhelmed hospitals needed our assistance to free up precious beds due to the Omicron surge,” Mark Parkinson, AHCA/NCAL president and CEO, wrote. “However, with your help, healthcare providers, including those in long-term care, can access key tools available to help respond to this unprecedented challenge.”