The Health and Human Services Department said it will grant $175 million to help hospitals and healthcare providers in the Gulf Coast that are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Of the total, $160 million will be given to acute-care hospitals and skilled-nursing facilities in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. HHS said in a news release that each state will receive its amount based on each eligible hospital and skilled-nursing facilitys share of total Medicare payments under a prospective payment system for inpatient care. Therefore, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will allocate $71.6 million, or 45%, to Louisiana facilities; $60.5 million, or 38%, for facilities in Mississippi; and $27.8 million, or 17%, to facilities in Alabama. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt also established a $15 million grant for Louisiana to help attract physicians, dentists, psychiatrists, registered nurses and licensed professional healthcare staff in the greater New Orleans area. According to an HHS representative, funds have been authorized, but the states still have to go through a formal application process by Feb. 1 to receive the money. Bob Johannessen, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, said the department has not learned of a timeline for the funds or how they will be disbursed. -- by Jessica Zigmond
HHS names dollar amount for Gulf Coast relief
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