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HHS to distribute $1.4 billion to freestanding children's hospitals

Eligible hospitals will receive 2.5% of their net revenue from patient care starting next week.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Close to 80 children's hospitals will receive $1.4 billion in targeted aid from the Provider Relief Fund, the Department of Health and Human Services announced today.

Eligible hospitals will receive 2.5% of their net revenue from patient care starting next week.

The money will go to certain freestanding children's hospitals that are not affiliated with larger hospital systems as financial relief to offset revenue losses.

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Qualifying freestanding children's hospitals must either be an exempt hospital under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' inpatient prospective payment system or be an HRSA-defined Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education facility. 

All payment recipients must accept HHS's terms and conditions, and may be subject to auditing to certify the data provided for payment calculation are accurate.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Children's hospitals have been uniquely impacted by COVID-19 and they and safety net hospitals have played a unique role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, HHS said. 

Children's hospitals have seen the same decrease in patient visits experienced by all providers. They suspended nonemergency surgeries, purchased additional personal protective equipment and offered their capacity as a backup to other hospitals in support of local preparedness planning for COVID-19 patient surges, HHS said.

The $1.4 billion distribution will help to ensure children's hospitals receive relief proportional to other hospitals across the nation and providers caring for children are able to continue operating in vulnerable communities. 

THE LARGER TREND

The funds, announced by the Department of Health and Human Services through the Health Resources and Services Administration, are part of the $175 billion Congress approved in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.

HHS said it tried to provide relief to a broad category of safety net hospitals serving vulnerable adult and children populations through two rounds of targeted allocations beginning in June, when $10 billion was announced, and again in July, in the amount of $3 billion under an expanded threshold. 

ON THE RECORD

"Children's hospitals have pitched in to our all-of-America COVID-19 response by providing backup capacity, extra supplies of PPE, and other support," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "Throughout the distribution of the Provider Relief Fund, we have sent these funds as quickly as we can to those who have been hardest hit by the virus, and this distribution recognizes the contributions of children's hospitals helping to meet the challenges of this pandemic."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com