HHS Aid Distribution for Providers, Hospitals Includes Uninsured in the Mix

April 23, 2020
Allison Inserro

HHS will divide the remaining $70 billion of financial assistance included in the bipartisan CARES Act to providers and hospitals by 4 tranches, saying the money would also be used to provide care for the uninsured who are ill with coronavirus disease 2019.

HHS will divide the remaining $70 billion of financial assistance included in the bipartisan CARES Act to providers and hospitals by 4 tranches, saying the money would also be used to provide care for the uninsured who are ill with coronavirus disease 2019.

However, HHS Secretary Alex Azar would not provide an estimate of how much of the $70 billion would go toward covering care for those without insurance, only saying that he expected it to be more than enough.

The first $30 billion of the $100 billion in total funds was distributed last week, according to Medicare fee-for-service revenue, which left out many hospitals in the areas hardest hit by the virus, such as New York. The CARES Act, passed in March, gave HHS wide discretion in how to allocate the funds. .

The funds released Wednesday will be apportioned by different criteria than the first wave of funding, HHS said; the formula for disbursement will be proportional to providers' share of 2018 net patient revenue. The funds allocated this way will include $20 billion in payments to a variety of healthcare facilities and providers who were included in the first $30 billion. These funds will begin going out this Friday, HHS said.

HHS said it expects payments to begin next week for these areas:

  • Coronavirus hot spots will receive $10 billion; New York will receive $4.4 billion of that amount, The Associated Press reported.
  • Rural health clinics and hospitals will receive $10 billion, based on their operating expenses.
  • Indian Health Service facilities will receive $400 million, also based on their operating expenses.

Azar said additional allocations will be announced for nursing homes, for hospitals and doctors that rely on Medicaid, and for dentists.

As part of the agreement to accept the money, providers and facilities must agree not to balance bill patients who are uninsured, HHS said. It will be up to providers to determine eligibility, Azar added.

The Trump administration, which has resisted calls to reopen the federal marketplace exchanges under the Affordable Care Act for a special enrollment period, is expecting the CARES Act funding to also cover the cost of treating people without insurance.

Earlier this month, the Kaiser Family Foundation published an estimate that pegged the cost of care for uninsured patients at $13.9 billion to $41.8 billion.