The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced today it is beginning distribution of $30 billion in grants to hospitals and providers as part of the $100 billion fund authorized by the CARES Act; more information on the initial disbursement can be found here. These are payments, not loans, that have no repayment obligations and could be delivered via direct deposit as early as today.
This announcement follows MGMA advocacy urging HHS to provide immediate financial support to group practices in order for them to sustain operations and continue treating patients. We will continue to press HHS to disburse remaining funds directly to medical group practices in an expeditious, efficient manner.
Healthcare entities eligible for the initial $30 billion include all facilities and providers that received Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) payments in CY 2019. Importantly, this is only the first wave of funds under the $100 billion, and MGMA expects forthcoming distributions will focus on providers with lower shares of Medicare FFS reimbursement or who predominantly serve the Medicaid population.
Payment distribution amounts are determined by the eligible provider’s share of 2019 Medicare FFS reimbursements. HHS is partnering with UnitedHealth Group and Optum Bank to assist in the delivery of the initial $30 billion; funds will be distributed to the eligible provider’s billing tax identification number (TIN) using direct deposit information on file with United, Optum, or Medicare (with “HHSPAYMENT” or “HHS Stimulus” as the payment descriptor), or via paper check for those that normally receive reimbursement this way. Within 30 days of payment, HHS requires providers to attest to receipt of the funds and agree to certain terms via a portal opening on April 13.
The $30 billion being distributed was authorized under the CARES Act, which was the third COVID-19 economic stimulus bill passed by Congress. The CARES Act designates $100 billion in funding through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund and requires HHS to distribute capital through grants or “other mechanisms” to eligible healthcare entities, which include hospitals and group practices that are experiencing financial losses due to COVID19. Unlike the small business loans authorized under CARES, there are no employer size limitations.