The CMS this week will begin distributing $30 billion of the $100 billion Congress allocated in an emergency provider relief fund.
The first round of grant funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act will be distributed based on Medicare revenue, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. Some of the payments will be issued by direct deposit, while other providers will be required to register to receive the grants.
"This is not based on a first-come, first-served basis. Because we are basing this on the Medicare revenue, they will get these dollars," Verma said.
The American Hospital Association had asked for more than $20 billion to be allocated exclusively to hospitals based on facilities' number of hospital beds.
Verma said there will be a second round of funding where priority will be given to children's hospitals, pediatricians, nursing homes and other providers that receive much of their funding from other sources.
America's Essential Hospitals President and CEO Bruce Siegel said the group is glad to see the quick grant distribution but is concerned that some of safety-net hospitals could be disadvantaged because of their payer mixes.
"An allocation methodology that consists only of Medicare fee-for-service revenue could tilt the playing field against some essential hospitals, which care for disproportionate numbers of uninsured and Medicaid patients," Siegel said in a statement.
HHS has not yet released details about how the rest of the money will be spent, or how money may be used to pay for COVID-19 care for the uninsured. Hospital groups have generally opposed that use for the emergency funds.
An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation released Tuesday estimated that hospital costs for the uninsured could be as high as $42 billion.
In a separate announcement Tuesday, the CMS said it had sent $34 billion to providers over the past week through its Accelerated and Advance Payment Program. This money is different from the CARES Act funding.
The agency said that it received more than 25,000 requests from providers and suppliers under the program, which was expanded in late March to address cash-flow issues due to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 17,000 requests were approved last week. Prior to COVID-19, about 100 total requests were approved in the past five years, mostly after a natural disaster, the agency noted.