HHS to dole out $10B in additional COVID-19 funds to hospitals in 'high-impact' areas

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to begin distributing $10 billion in additional relief funds to hospitals in areas hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday, officials said the second round of high-impact funding—part of $175 billion in relief funds allocated to healthcare by the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act—would begin going out to hospitals in "high-impact" areas the week of July 20.

More than 1,000 hospitals will receive funding from this tranche of money.

The most funding is going to Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania where hospitals are receiving a total of $740 million, $683.6 million and $654.6 million, respectively.

“The top priority for HHS’s administration of the Provider Relief Fund has been getting support as quickly as possible to providers who have been hit hard by COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a statement. “Because we’ve carefully targeted support, we can make payments to areas most in need as the pandemic evolves, like we are doing with this round of funds.”

HHS previously notified hospitals in June about plans to distribute a second round of funding to high-impact areas. To determine eligibility, HHS asked them to submit data on COVID-19 positive inpatient admissions between January and June.

Officials said the funding was based on a formula for hospitals with more than 161 COVID-19 admissions during that time period—or one admission per day—or that experienced a disproportionate intensity of COVID-19 admissions. Hospitals will be paid $50,000 per eligible admission. (The first round of funding was based on a formula that distributed funds to hospitals with 100 or more COVID-19 admissions between Jan. 1 and April 10 and paid $76,975 per eligible admission.)

The American Hospital Association (AHA) praised the administration for the funds to "hot spot" hospitals.

"As we have urged, hospitals with high numbers of COVID-19 admissions need help immediately to help offset the significant costs incurred in treating COVID patients, along with managing financial losses due to lower patient visits for non-COVID care," said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack in a statement. "However, since this distribution of funding for “hot spots” does not take into account the latest spike in cases and hospitalizations in some parts of the country, we look forward to working with the Administration to ensure that additional relief will be distributed to 'hot spots' and all hospitals."  

As different areas of the country face new surges of positive cases, HHS will "continue to evaluate and provide necessary relief where possible," officials said in a release.