Coronavirus Update for Wednesday, December 16

The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government as 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, December 16.

Provider Relief Fund

  • HHS announced that it has completed its review of Phase 3 applications from the Provider Relief Fund program and will distribute $24.5 billion to more than 70,000 providers.  HHS said this distribution will satisfy up to 88 percent of each applicant’s reported net lost revenues and net change in expenses caused by COVID-19 in the first half of 2020.  See HHS’s announcement here.
  • Phase 3 was originally announced as a $20 billion distribution.  According to HHS, “As HHS began analyzing applications, it realized the submissions for lost revenues and net changes in expenses would exceed the $20 billion budgeted for the Phase 3 allocation.  In an effort to meet the demand, HHS worked to add another $4 billion to the allocation bringing the new total to over $24 billion.”
  • More than 35,000 applicants for Phase 3 grants will not receive additional payments either because they experienced no change in revenues or net expenses attributable to COVID-19 or because they have already received funds that equal or exceed reimbursement for 88 percent of reported losses.
  • Payments to Phase 3 applicants begin today and will continue as application quality reviews and recipient payment set up are completed before payment can be made.  A state-by-state breakdown of the first batch of Phase 3 payments can be found here.

COVID-19 Relief Legislation

Work continues at this hour on what is being called the Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020.  As of this writing the bill is expected to include the following health care provisions:

  • $35 billion for the Provider Relief Fund, including $7 billion for rural providers.
  • more than $16 billion for testing, contact tracing, and vaccine development and distribution
  • $5 billion in emergency funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment and mental health services.

The bill does not include liability protections for health care providers and businesses or the $152 billion in aid to states and local governments that had been proposed by a bipartisan working group.  Instead, negotiators are looking for ways to include around $90 billion for other emergency fund programs that could help direct financial support to states.

Funding for the federal government expires at midnight this Friday, December 18.  Lawmakers are hoping to wrap up details of this bill and possible legislation to address surprise billing before that deadline.

NASH will keep its members abreast of the progress of this bill and any changes from the key points noted above.

CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Calls 

CMS hosts recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information about the agency’s response to COVID-19.  These sessions are open to members of the health care community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer participants an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.

COVID-19 Office Hours Call

Tuesday, December 22 at 5:00 (eastern)

Toll Free Dial In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode:  3968359

Audio Webcast link:  go here.

Conference lines are limited so CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast.

To listen to the audio files and read the transcripts for past stakeholder calls, go here.

Department of Health and Human Services

Food and Drug Administration

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention