HHS distributing $560 million to physicians impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly $19 billion in total aid has been distributed to providers since November.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week began making more than $560 million in Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 General Distribution payments to more than 4,100 providers across the country.

In a news release, HHS noted that nearly $11.5 billion in PRF Phase 4 payments has been distributed to more than 78,000 providers in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and five territories. This distribution is in addition to American Rescue Plan Rural payments totaling nearly $7.5 billion in funding to more than 44,000 providers since November 2021.

Provider Relief Fund payments have been instrumental in helping health care providers prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus. Providers have used the funds to remain in operation and to continue supporting patient care. Health care organizations that are facing workforce shortages and staff burnout also are able to use these funds to support their recruitment and retention efforts.

“Provider Relief Funds have been a lifeline for health care providers across the country,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement. “From providing life-saving care to tackling workforce challenges, these funds will help many health care facilities weather the pandemic’s continued impact.”

Phase 4 payments have an increased focus on equity, including reimbursing a higher percentage of losses for smaller providers and incorporating bonus payments for providers who serve Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, and Medicare beneficiaries. Approximately 86 percent of all Phase 4 applications have now been processed. Remaining applications will continue to be processed throughout early 2022.