When will the Provider Relief Fund be distributed to hospitals and healthcare workers?
Healthcare workers have been under unimaginable pressures throughout the pandemic and the federal government is now offering financial support for providers.
The Provider Relief Fund (PRF) is a financial support programme for healthcare providers who have suffered a loss of revenue or increased expenses during the pandemic. The scheme is designed to ensure that critical healthcare infrastructure can remain functioning during the public health crisis.
Providers can receive the money automatically or may apply for payments, which can be used to cover the cost of testing, diagnosis and care for healthcare workers who become infected with covid-19.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has confirmed that $178 billion in relief funds has already been provided for the programme and payments are going out to providers in a series of phases. There are already efforts underway to top up the fund and calls from Congress to freeze some of the requirements until the end of the pandemic.
Phase Four of the Provider Relief Fund is currently being distributed
Last month the HHS announced that an additional $2 billion from PRF would be sent out to more than 7,600 providers across the United States. This brought the amount distributed so far in Phase Four to nearly $11 billion, covering 74,000 providers in all 50 states, Washington DC and five territories. In total, $17 billion will be allocated in Phase Four.
This latest step of the distribution process focused on equity in healthcare provision and saw proportionally larger payments sent out to smaller providers. In addition, there are ‘bonus’ payment for those who serve Medicaid, Medicare, and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beneficiaries.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for health care providers and the communities they serve,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “The Provider Relief Fund remains an important tool in helping to sustain the critical health care services communities need and support the health care workforce that is delivering on the frontlines every day.”
Senate push for greater support for the PRF
Healthcare workers have been absolutely vital throughout the pandemic and the federal government is eager to ensure that the overburdened providers can continue to function.
Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Susan Collins have introduced legislation which will bolster the PRF, known as the Provider Relief Fund Improvement Act. The bill would delay the various PRF reporting stipulations until the end of the pandemic to ensure that providers are not bogged down with additional paperwork and to help get the money out more promptly.
Sen. Shaheen wrote: “We are still in the midst of this pandemic and now is not the time to divert providers’ focus from their lifesaving work to navigate a maze of complex reporting rules.”
“As health care providers continue to struggle with staffing shortages, financial difficulties, and other challenges, the last thing we should be doing is adding to their burden by imposing onerous paperwork requirements,” she continued.