The Department of Health and Human Services has announced an additional $25.9 in COVID-19 relief funds that will be available to providers starting September 29, 2021.  This amount includes $17 billion for Phase 4 of Provider Relief Fund (PRF) payments that will be available to providers who can document revenue losses and expenses associated with the Pandemic and $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds that will be available to providers who serve rural Medicaid, CHIP, and/or Medicare patients.  In a statement announcing the funding, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra stated: “The funding will be distributed with an eye towards equity, to ensure providers who serve our most vulnerable communities will receive the support they need.”
The Phase 4 PRF payments will be based on providers’ lost revenues and expenditures between July 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.  In an effort to support the providers with the greatest need, HHS will reimburse smaller providers for their COVID-related lost revenues and expenses at a higher rate than large providers.  In addition, Phase 4 will include bonus payments for providers who serve Medicaid, CHIP, and/or Medicare patients, who are considered as having lower incomes and more complex medical issues.
The $8.5 billion in ARP funds will be paid to rural providers based on the amount of Medicaid, CHIP and or Medicare services they provider to patients who live in rural areas as defined by the HHS Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.  Both the bonus payments under Phase 4 of the PRF, and the ARP rural payments will be made at Medicare rates, which are generally higher than rates paid under Medicaid and CHIP.
In order to streamline the application process, providers will be able to apply for both the Phase 4 PRF funds and the ARP rural funds in one application and existing Medicaid, CHIP and Medicare claims data will be used to calculate payments.