Three nursing homes have closed in Maine in just the past month and others have struggled to stay open
Washington, D.C. – Following a bipartisan push led by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released $25.5 billion from the Provider Relief Fund to assist health care providers facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. The amount includes $8.5 billion to be set aside specifically for rural providers and $17 billion for Phase 4 for providers who can document revenue loss and expenses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
HHS’ announcement follows a bipartisan call led by Senators Collins and Shaheen to swiftly distribute these federal dollars to providers on the frontlines of the COVID crisis.
“The pandemic has taken an enormous toll on our health care providers, particularly long-term care facilities and rural hospitals, and we cannot ignore the financial realities they face. Three nursing homes have closed in Maine in just the past month and others have struggled to stay open,” said Senator Collins. “I was proud to partner with Senator Shaheen to champion the Provider Relief Fund, which has been a lifeline for hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers and physician practices across the country. The release of this additional funding will help prevent more health care facilities from closing their doors and protect patients’ access to care.”
“As health care providers in New Hampshire and across the country battle another surge of patients, these federal dollars can’t come soon enough. I’ve been pushing for these resources to get out the door, and I’m relieved the process has been set in motion so those on the frontlines have the resources they need to keep their facilities open and continue caring for our community members. I’m especially encouraged the Administration heeded my call to prioritize rural providers, who are among the most in need. This set-aside will be crucial for states like New Hampshire,” said Shaheen. “I appreciate Senator Collins’ partnership to raise this issue and build strong bipartisan support to apply pressure and get these funds out. Time is of the essence and I encourage providers to apply as soon as the application process opens.”
Over the course of the pandemic, Congress has appropriated $178 billion for the PRF as well as an additional $8.5 billion for rural providers, however, the Government Accountability Office recently reported that 25 percent of the funding remained unspent.
Hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living providers, clinics, and other health care providers have relied on the Provider Relief Fund to help weather the financial difficulties created by the pandemic. In rural areas in particular, the PRF has prevented facilities that struggled before and during the pandemic from falling into bankruptcy or closing entirely.
Earlier this year, an amendment Senator Collins authored with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) to strengthen the Provider Relief Fund was adopted by a vote of 99-1. In addition, Senator Collins urged HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on multiple occasions to support the Provider Relief Fund.
As lead negotiators of the bipartisan infrastructure package, Senators Collins and Shaheen strongly opposed attempts to reappropriate funding from the Provider Relief Fund.”