HHS Releases $10 Billion in COVID Relief Rural Payments and $12 Billion in Payments to Hotspot Hospitals

May 07, 2020

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released another round of funding from the $175 billion provider relief fund authorized in the CARES Act and its follow-up legislation. On May 6, HHS began to release funds totaling $10 billion which will go to rural acute care general hospitals, critical access hospitals, rural health clinics and community health centers in rural areas.

According to HHS, 170 rural sites in Wisconsin will receive a total of $363.5 million, or about 3.6% of the overall funding. All clinical non-hospital sites will receive a minimum of $100,000 while all critical access hospitals will receive a minimum of $1 million, with additional payments based on operating expenses. HHS projects that the average hospital will receive about $4 million. As of press time, HHS has not announced formal definitions of criteria they are using to determine whether a hospital is rural nor have they provided a list of entities receiving payments. WHA is continuing to pursue this information.

HHS also announced $12 billion will be sent to so-called hotspot hospitals that admitted 100 or more COVID-19 patients as of April 10. The vast majority of this funding was targeted to states that saw the earliest and largest outbreaks, such as New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. Only two hospitals in Wisconsin will receive funding from this pot, for a total of about $32 million between the two.

Together with the $50 billion general pot of funding that was previously distributed, a total of $72 billion has been distributed from the $175 billion authorized in the CARES Act provider relief fund to date. HHS is also using an undetermined portion of these funds to reimburse care at Medicare rates for uninsured COVID-19 patients through HRSA's Uninsured Program Portal. While no additional details have been given on the approximately $100 billion in remaining funds, federal lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have announced plans to vote on a fifth COVID-19 stimulus bill as early as next week. Despite this, leaders in the U.S. Senate have indicated a desire to pause and gather more information before crafting legislation in their chamber.

WHA is continuing to stay in close contact with Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation to keep them informed of financial and other challenges Wisconsin hospitals continue to face, despite the federal funding received to date. Please contact WHA Director of Federal and State Relations Jon Hoelter with questions.

This story originally appeared in the May 07, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter