COVID-19 Update: HHS Announces $500 Million Distribution to Tribal Hospitals, Clinics, and Urban Health Centers

HHS Announces $500 Million Distribution to Tribal Hospitals, Clinics, and Urban Health Centers

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $500 million in payments from the Provider Relief Fund to the Indian Health Service (IHS) and tribal hospitals, clinics, and urban health centers to support the tribal response to COVID-19.

The pandemic has disproportionately impacted IHS providers and programs. Many such providers have experienced a significantly increased need for personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as increased labor costs due to employees that have been exposed to COVID-19. At least 233 facilities across the Indian health system serve as the only health care provider for both IHS and non-IHS beneficiaries, making them critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and reopening America. This funding provides vital support to these healthcare facilities, which in some cases may be the only healthcare facility within a day’s traveling distance for those served. Combined with previous funding, this distribution brings the total amount of new resources to the Indian health system to $2.4 billion dollars.

Distribution Methodology

IHS and tribal hospitals will receive a $2.81 million base payment plus three percent of their total operating expenses. IHS and tribal clinics and programs will receive a $187,000 base payments plus five percent of the estimated service population multiplied by the average cost per user. IHS urban programs will receive a $181,000 base payment plus six percent of the estimated service population multiplied by the average cost per user.

HHS has allocated approximately 4% of available funding for Urban Indian Health Programs, consistent with the percent of patients served by Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) in relation to the total IHS active user population, as well as prior allocations of IHS COVID-19 funding. The remaining funding will be divided equally between hospitals and clinics.

COVID-19 Legislative Update: House Passes HEROS Act

HOUSE PASSES THE HEROES ACT

Tonight, the House passed HR 6800, the HEROES Act, by a vote of 208-199, largely along party lines. The bill provides over $3 trillion in funding to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a $20B Fiscal Relief Fund for tribal governments which can be used to cover lost revenue. At present, Senate Republicans have indicated that they will not take up the legislation and the White House has indicated that it would veto the legislation. However, it is expected that the Senate and White House will have to negotiate another response bill at some point in the weeks ahead, and this bill will provide a start for those negotiations.