Image of nurses' hands at computer keyboard

About 9,200 nursing homes — or more than two-thirds of those eligible — shared incentive payments recently for successfully reducing COVID-related infections and deaths between September and October. 

The Department of Health and Human Services announced in December it was immediately distributing $523 million to the providers.

The payments represented the second round of payments to facilities under the performance-based payment program that aims to keep nursing home COVID-19 rates lower than the surrounding communities they serve. 

The incentive program was initially announced in August and gauges providers on two measured outcomes: COVID-19 infection rates and mortality rates. HHS distributed $333 million to more than 10,000 nursing homes during the first round of performance payments. 

Two more monthly rounds, plus an overall rewards period, were still on tap at press time.

HHS found that 69% of eligible facilities met infection control criteria for the second round of the incentive program, while 68% met the mortality criteria during this round. The agency added that the collective efforts of these nursing homes resulted in about 3,900 fewer infections relative to the rates seen in the communities where they exist.