HHS on Thursday announced that it will accept applications for $20 billion in new provider relief grants for a month starting Oct. 5.
Unlike many prior distributions, healthcare providers will have to apply for additional funds and supply data about their financial situations to qualify. The funds will be newly available to some behavioral health providers and any providers that began practicing in 2020.
The deadline for applications is Nov. 6, and HHS urged providers to apply early.
"HHS is urging all eligible providers to apply early; do not wait until the last day or week of the application period. Applying early will help to expedite HHS's review process and payment calculations, and ultimately accelerate the distribution of all payments," the agency said.
Those who have already received grants worth 2% of their annual revenue may be eligible for an add-on payment if their revenue data justifies it, HHS said. The add-on payments will be calculated using a combination of operating revenues, operating expenses and prior Provider Relief Fund grants.
HHS has recently frustrated hospitals by changing the calculation for determining lost revenue on Sept. 19 and setting a cap on how much lost revenue providers can claim. The American Hospital Association said rural hospitals that were already in tough financial straits would be at the greatest risk in having to return funds.
"HHS's new definition will require many hospitals to return PRF funds based on a new formula and set of metrics that are simply unfair and unrealistic," American Hospital Association President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
The latest distribution represents a significant chunk of the $175 billion Congress appropriated for the Provider Relief Fund. HHS previously issued over $100 billion, but had been withholding some funds to account for evolving needs, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.