The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is distributing an additional $20 billion in funds from the CARES Act intended to help health care providers who have been financially clobbered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The proportion of this installment of funds that would go to hospices is unknown.
The CARES Act, enacted on March 27, earmarked $100 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to provide additional monetary support to health care providers that are reeling from the outbreak’s economic fallout. The new disbursement builds on an initial $30 million outlay that the federal government began distributing last week. Of that initial $30 billion, about $1 billion was expected to go to hospices.
“Our goal in all of the decisions we’re making is to get the money from the Provider Relief Fund out the door as quickly as possible while targeting it to those suffering the most from the pandemic,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “We will continue using every regulatory and payment flexibility we have to help providers continue doing their vital work until we’ve defeated this virus.”
The amount of funds a health care provider would receive will be based on the organization’s net Medicare revenue for 2018. HHS is expected to launch a portal next week where providers can submit revenue information to apply for the $20 billion in general funds, though some organizations will receive funds sooner based on data from their Medicare cost reports. Providers could see an initial payment of these funds as soon as Friday, April 24.
The financial and operational impact of the pandemic has been monumental for hospices. Providers have been in dire need of additional supplies, with acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) as a top priority. The tremendous global demand for those products has driven up prices. Hospices have also had difficulty accessing patients, investing in new telehealth capabilities and covering paid leave for staff who have been exposed to the virus.