HHS to Send COVID-19 Funds to Medicaid, CHIP, Safety Net Hospitals

June 10, 2020

The funding comes from the bipartisan CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which allocated $175 billion in relief funds to hospitals and health care systems.

Shortly after receiving criticism about how it distributed billions of dollars in funding to health care providers, HHS said Tuesday it is sending $15 billion in COVID-19 relief to eligible providers that participate in state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs.

Also on Tuesday, CMS released guidance for health care facilities to re-open for non-emergent, non-COVID-19 health care in areas that are in the phase 2 stage of reopening.

HHS said Medicaid and CHIP providers will be able to use a portal starting Wednesday that allows them to report their annual patient revenue, which will be used as a factor in determining their payment. The payment to each provider will be at least 2% of reported gross revenue from patient care.

The funding comes from the bipartisan CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which allocated $175 billion in relief funds to hospitals and health care systems.

In addition, HHS is distributing $10 billion in relief funds to safety net hospitals.

The initial disbursement went to about 62% of all providers participating in state Medicaid and CHIP programs; the remaining 38% will receive the rest.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that large, for-profit hospitals chains like HCA Healthcare and Tenet Healthcare received $5.3 billion and more than $2 billion, respectively, while smaller hospitals and systems are struggling. Roseland Community Hospital, a 134-bed hospital in Illinois, borrowed $4 million to conduct COVID-19 testing on thousands of low-income people and to purchase more hospital equipment but received less than $1 million in federal grants so far.

Meanwhile, as part of the overall plan by the Trump administration to reopen the country, CMS said it was making several recommendations in places where there is no evidence of a rebound in infections. However, systems must still be prepared for potential surges of infection.

CMS recommended the continuation of telehealth to minimize the need for a face-to-face visit, and said those with a higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness should continue to stay home unless they need in-person health care.

Facilities should continue to screen patients and staff for signs of infection and also test patients for active infection with SARS COV-2 before any operations or procedures, CMS said.

Although the curve of new cases continues to flatten in metropolitan areas, it is rising in rural areas, including in states with minimal social distancing regulations, noted The Washington Post Tuesday. The average daily infection rate is rising in Mississippi, Florida, and South Carolina; since the start of June, 14 states have recorded their highest-ever 7-day average of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in the United States.