A stethoscope on top of a pile of money
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Nursing homes waiting for COVID-19 relief payments now have another opportunity to receive them after the federal government announced it would distribute another $413 million from the Provider Relief Fund. 

The Department of Health and Human Services late Tuesday announced that it would be releasing the Provider Relief Fund Phase 4 payments to more than 3,600 healthcare providers impacted by the ongoing pandemic. It was not clear when the distributions would begin but HHS noted that Tuesday’s announcement now means that approximately 89% of all Phase 4 applications have been processed. 

The announcement comes after HHS in late February announced it was delivering $560 million in Provider Relief Funds to COVID-impacted healthcare providers. Overall, HHS has distributed nearly $12 billion in Phase 4 payments to more than 82,000 providers since November 2021.

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

The agency stressed Provider Relief Fund resources are continuing to help meet essential needs and maintain access to key health services across the country. 

“As we continue to make progress in defeating COVID-19, it’s important to keep supporting our providers with the resources they need so we can all build back better and healthier than before,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. 

The distribution, however, doesn’t specifically target long-term care providers despite repeated requests from industry leaders. In a letter to Congressional leaders last week, LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan urged Congress to restore $23 billion in Provider Relief Funds, that was reallocated for other coronavirus expenses, and distribute it to aging services and long-term care providers.

“The Provider Relief Funds distributed to date have been vital to aging services organizations’ ability to continue to serve their residents and clients and keep their doors open,” Sloan wrote. 

“What we know now is the pandemic has lasted considerably longer than originally expected when Congress passed PRF dollars,” she added. “Our members are as ready as the public to get past the pandemic and move to endemicity, but they must continue to test staff and residents for COVID, acquire PPE and ensure adequate staffing to keep the virus at bay for the vulnerable populations they serve.”