From the archives: COVID Uninsured Provider Relief Fund Expected To Run Out of Money Soon If Congress Doesn’t Act
Previously published on April 19, 2022
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
In 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created the “Provider Relief Fund” (PRF) to help support healthcare providers in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal program has served as a lifeline to frontline healthcare workers who’ve experienced revenue losses and increased demand for their services during the pandemic.
To date, it has allocated more than $178 billion in payments to over 410,000 providers across the United States. Click here to learn more.
COVID-19 Uninsured Relief Fund.
Let’s start with some good news: Under the COVID-19 relief funding, HHS created the “uninsured relief fund.” This program provides claims reimbursement to health care providers for testing, treating, diagnosis, and administering vaccines to uninsured individuals for COVID-19. It has paid out more than $17 billion throughout the pandemic. It has paid out more than $17 billion throughout the pandemic.
Of the $17 billion, HHS has distributed nearly $10 billion for testing, more than $6 billion reimbursed for treatment, and the remainder covered vaccinations. Read more on the statistics here.
Running Out of Money.
Now for the bad news: According to an HHS spokesperson, there’s only $7.6 billion left, and the money will run out in the coming months. Congress isn’t currently considering making more funding available, meaning providers and patients are likely to have soon to bear the costs themselves.
Therefore, many hospitals and healthcare organizations urge Congress to replenish the PRF. “One of the most helpful and patient-oriented uses of the PRF was to help those people who for whatever reasons are uninsured and suffer from COVID-19,” said Federation of American Hospitals CEO Chip Kahn. “It meant that no one should have any reluctance to go to the hospital if they have COVID but no insurance.”
Additionally, on February 9, 2022, the American Hospital Association released a statement urging readers to contact lawmakers to get Congress to provide another $25 billion for the PRF in the government funding package. Read the AHA’s action alert here.
As we approach nearly two years since HHS declared COVID-19 a national public health emergency, PRF has been a lifeline to hospitals, health systems, and medical professionals. It has been helping to keep doors open during the pandemic to continue providing essential care to patients and communities. However, if the program runs out of money and Congress doesn’t appropriate more, hospitals could be left footing the bill, which will hurt both providers and patients in the end.
Read one of my previous blogs on a similar case regarding a Florida Dentist’s COVID-19 Business Interruption Insurance Claim to learn even more.
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Hellmann, Jessie. “HHS running out of money to pay providers for treating uninsured COVID-19 patients.” Modern Healthcare. (February 8, 2022). Web.
HRSA. “Covid Uninsured Claim.” Health Resources & Services Administration. (February 2022). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
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