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HHS Announces $4 Billion in Additional Provider Relief Funding for Safety-Net and Rural Hospitals

July 16, 2020

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on July 10 an additional $4 billion will be allocated to certain safety-net hospitals and rural hospitals and clinics that missed out on the first iteration of funding distributions.
 
In May, HHS distributed $10 billion to rural hospitals, rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers that met certain rural criteria. The funding amounted to about $328 million for 73 rural hospitals in Wisconsin with an additional $35 million going to rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers in Wisconsin. And in mid-June, HHS distributed $10 billion to safety-net hospitals that met certain criteria. Unfortunately, only four hospitals in Wisconsin qualified for a total of $45 million from that distribution, leading WHA to express concern with Wisconsin’s congressional delegation over the arbitrary criteria that led to Wisconsin safety-net hospitals largely missing out on relief.
 
While the newest announcement is welcome news, HHS has still not announced which hospitals will qualify – despite WHA and others asking for additional transparency in how this funding is being distributed. According to HHS, the enhanced safety-net funding will go to 214 additional hospitals across the country, including nine total in Illinois and Wisconsin that will share $130 million. It is currently unclear how much of that will go to Wisconsin or Illinois hospitals. HHS says safety-net hospitals that met previous criteria, while also having an average margin of less than or equal to 3% in any two consecutive of the last five years, will be eligible.
 
Additionally, HHS intends the additional rural funding to go to rural hospitals and clinics that serve rural populations but are not themselves located in the rural census tracts HHS previously announced in May. HHS says this will go to 479 rural hospitals and clinics nationally, including $41 million to 19 rural hospitals and clinics in Wisconsin.
 
While this is welcome news, Wisconsin hospitals and health systems have received about $1 billion total of the $105 billion in Provider Relief Funding distributed so far, despite experiencing more than $2.5 billion in lost revenue due to COVID-19 and facing continued future financial uncertainty. WHA continues to advocate with the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation for needed financial assistance for Wisconsin hospitals and health systems as the U.S. Senate develops its next COVID relief package in the next few weeks.
 
For more information, contact WHA Director of Federal and State Relations Jon Hoelter.

This story originally appeared in the July 16, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter