Only $10.8 million, or 0.5%, of the $2 billion Congress set aside to help providers pay for COVID-19 testing for uninsured patients has been approved to be paid during the first two weeks of the program's operation, according to the most recent government data.
While other HHS grant funds are essentially prospective payments, the uninsured reimbursement program is dependent on providers submitting claims. Several sources that work with providers said the Health Resources and Services Administration has been processing claims promptly, but slow distribution could be caused by coding issues, a lack of awareness about the program, and early technical issues with the HRSA portal.
Lawmakers set aside $1 billion to pay providers for COVID-19 testing for the uninsured in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed in mid-March, and another $1 billion in the Paycheck Protection and Health Care Enhancement Act, which passed in late April.
Congress didn't set aside any funds specifically to pay for COVID-19 treatment, but the Trump administration decided to use some of the $175 billion provider relief fund lawmakers created for uninsured treatment reimbursement. HHS has refused to say how much money is set aside to pay for treatment reimbursement, but the payments are subject to funding availability.
The HRSA system opened for claims submission on May 6, and the agency said it started sending reimbursement to providers on May 18. An HRSA spokesperson said claims are processed daily on a rolling basis.
According to the most recent publicly available data, HRSA has approved $10.8 million in testing claims and $82 million in treatment claims as of June 2. The agency has approved 31% of the submissions it received as of June 2, the HRSA spokesperson said, though some claims that are pending will not be approved.