Biden admin redirected nearly $7B of provider relief to COVID vaccine, therapeutics purchases: report

The Biden administration reportedly shifted almost $7 billion in pandemic relief funding for providers to purchases of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, according to a Stat report citing an internal document.

A Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson told the publication that repurposing money from the Provider Relief Fund was appropriate because the vaccines and therapeutics that were purchased were given to providers for free.

“All Provider Relief Fund dollars have been used for Provider Relief Fund purposes,” the spokesperson told Stat.

Combining this with the Trump administration decision to divert $10 billion from the $178 billion fund for its Operation Warp Speed would mean that nearly a tenth of the money carved out by Congress in the CARES Act was not allocated for direct payments to hospitals and practices.

Fierce Healthcare has reached out to HHS to confirm the reporting.

The news comes as provider organizations are pleading to Congress to write additional relief money into next month’s potential omnibus spending bill, noting that none of the original $178 billion designated through the CARES Act addresses pandemic expenses incurred after March 2021.

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“While this fund has been a lifeline for some healthcare providers, no distributions have been made or announced for expenses related to the delta or omicron surges … despite decreases in deaths, hospitalizations and cases,” American Hospital Association President and CEO Rick Pollack said during a Tuesday morning press call.

Further, the Biden administration is still working to hand out the last of the initial pot, having announced just this week the distribution of $2 billion to 7,600 providers and another $6 billion or so to go in the fourth phase of the relief program.

Stat also reported that the Biden administration is looking to redirect an additional $1 billion from Congress-provided COVID-19 testing funding to more vaccine and therapeutics purchases.