Only $2.2 billion of the $15 billion in coronavirus relief funding announced in June for eligible Medicaid providers, including assisted living providers, had been paid to eligible providers as of Sept. 11, according to a presentation made Thursday at the September public meeting of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, or MACPAC.
Commissioner Tricia Brooks said the fact that the distribution was so small was “disturbing,” according to a media report.
Only 14.8% of the Medicaid providers potentially eligible for the funds, from phase 2 general distribution from the Provider Relief Fund, had applied as of Aug. 30, according to the presentation.
Speculating on the reason for the low application rate as of Aug. 30, Robert Nelb, MPH, a principal analyst at MACPAC who was an author of the presentation, said: “One of the challenges is just the complexity of the application process. Another challenge is sort of figuring out exactly who is eligible and who is not, because many providers are part of larger organizations that maybe applied through the first phase.”
The commission is a non-partisan legislative branch agency that provides analysis and recommendations to Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services and the states. MACPAC Chair Melanie Bella said the group will investigate issues that may have affected potential applicants before it makes any recommendations to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services about possibly reopening the application process.
HHS announced in June that it would distribute approximately $15 billion in grants to eligible state Medicaid and CHIP providers, including assisted living operators.
Eric D. Hargan, deputy HHS secretary, said at the time that the funds would be available to approximately 275,000 providers that care for Medicaid and CHIP recipients but did not receive funds in the phase 1 general distribution. “These Medicaid and CHIP providers typically operate on thin margins and often include practitioners like dentists, pediatricians, assisted living facilities, and behavioral health providers like opioid treatment programs,” he said.
The funds come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Provider Relief Fund and are designed to provide relief to Medicaid and CHIP providers who are experiencing lost revenues or increased expenses due to COVID-19, HHS said.
Nelb and the presentation’s other author, MACPAC Senior Analyst Michelle Millerick, MPH, estimated that approximately 38% of all Medicaid and CHIP providers potentially were eligible for the phase 2 funding.