Verma: 2nd round of hospital funding to be more targeted at COVID-19 hot spots

Seema Verma interviewed by Steve Forbes at Forbes Healthcare Summit
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma gave details on the next tranche of funding to be provided for hospitals to combat COVID-19. (Forbes/GettyImages)

Another round of funding to hospitals will focus more on providers in COVID-19 hot spots as the Trump administration has faced criticism on the first tranche of $30 billion.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma told reporters on a call Wednesday that more details on the next wave of hospital funding will be coming this week. She said there will be a specific fund for providers in hot spots hit hard by COVID-19.

She added that the agency is also working on addressing providers that have not been able to work due to the cancellation of elective procedures at healthcare facilities.

“Large segments of the healthcare community aren’t able to provide services they would normally do,” Verma said.

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Verma didn’t divulge the full funding amount that will be next for hospitals. The $30 billion dispersed last week is part of a $100 billion fund passed by Congress in an economic stimulus package.

The Trump administration received criticism from several hospital groups that the $30 billion only went to providers that receive Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements and not to providers that rely heavily on other sources of income such as Medicaid.

“We had lots of meetings with providers and consistent feedback was we wanted to get this money out fast,” Verma said.

So the administration focused on using Medicare reimbursements because it already had payment data on hand, including using direct deposit to more quickly send the funding to providers.

Congress is also debating a second round of funding for hospitals. Democrats have pushed for an additional $250 billion but are in a standoff with Republicans who want to boost the Payroll Protection Program.