January 25, 2022
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced the imminent distribution of another $2 billion in Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 payments to health care providers who have experienced revenue losses and expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic and applied for phase 4 funding. This round of funding was open to all physicians, but in order to receive funding physicians were required to apply.
With today’s announcement, a total of nearly $11 billion in PRF Phase 4 payments have now been distributed to more than 74,000 providers nationwide. In California alone, 9,990 providers will have received Phase 4 payments totaling more than $1.3 billion. This is in addition to the distribution of American Rescue Plan (ARP) rural payments totaling nearly $7.5 billion in funding that was distributed to more than 43,000 providers in December 2021.
Physicians should be aware that any funds received over $10,000 in the aggregate during a PRF reporting period will trigger a reporting requirement through the PRF Reporting Portal. As individual providers agree to the terms and conditions of Phase 4 payments, it will be reflected on the public dataset.
The California Medical Association (CMA) and American Medical Association had advocated for more of the PRF to be distributed to providers who serve in rural areas and who see low-income patients. In response, HHS is reimbursing smaller practices at a higher percentage of their revenue losses and expenses due to COVID-19, as well as using Medicare reimbursement rates to calculate payments for practices that care for Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP patients.
CMA will keep pushing HHS to distribute all remaining funds and for Congress to authorize more funding to sustain physician practices. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Congress has authorized $185 billion in funding for providers. CMA believes there is approximately $10 billion left and we have asked for an accounting.
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