March 08, 2022
On February 24, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it was making more than $560 million in additional Provider Relief Fund (PRF) payments to more than 4,100 providers across the country. The PRF that has issued nearly $185 billion in financial support to health care providers across the country in the last two years.
Throughout the pandemic, the California Medical Association (CMA) has continued to urge Congress and the Administration to provide greater support to health care providers who have seen substantial financial hardship during the pandemic as they strive to keep their doors open to provide care for the communities they serve.
CMA recently urged Congress to release additional funds from the PRF for providers everywhere as the association received alarming data from their membership confirming that more than 70% of physicians still concerned about the financial health of their practices, and they continue to struggle with staffing shortages, forcing them to consider consolidation or shuttering their doors.
CMA has continually warned Congress that the long-term fall-out from the pandemic would be felt by patients for years to come and fundamentally alter the long-term stability of physician practices threatening access to care throughout California. Provider Relief Fund payments help alleviate those concerns and have been instrumental in helping health care providers prevent, prepare for, and respond to the ongoing pandemic. Providers have used the funds to remain in operation and to continue supporting patient care.
Phase 4 payments have an increased focus on equity, including reimbursing a higher percentage of losses for smaller providers and incorporating bonus payments for providers who serve Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, and Medicare beneficiaries. According to HHS, approximately 86% of all Phase 4 PRF applications have now been processed. Remaining applications will continue to be processed throughout early 2022.
To date in California, nearly 11,000 providers have received roughly $1.4 billion in PRF, and nearly 3,000 providers have received more than $375 million in American Rescue Plan Rural Payments. Cumulative funding data has not yet been updated with Phase 4 information.