The Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday that it will distribute $25 billion this week to health care providers who work with low-income populations, with the money coming from congressional appropriations targeting hospitals and caregivers struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Providers in the Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) systems will receive $15 billion, while safety-net hospitals, which serve all populations regardless of their ability to pay, will get $10 billion. The money is part of $175 billion in relief funds allocated by Congress for hospitals and health care providers.
The move comes after a bipartisan chorus of critics charged the Trump administration with moving too slowly to provide the money, The Hill reports. In a letter to HHS last week, a groups of lawmakers including Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) said they had “serious concerns” about delays in the distribution of the funds.
“Many of these providers are safety net providers that operate on thin profit margins, if at all,” the lawmakers wrote. “The COVID-19 pandemic has strained their already scarce resources, threatening their ability to keep their doors open in the midst of a declared public health emergency.”
The administration has distributed about $70 billion so far from the pandemic health care fund, with most of the money going to providers in the Medicare system. Health care officials say that the complicated structure of the low-income health care system has made it difficult to distribute the funds to Medicaid providers in a timely manner.