Feds sending Louisiana health care providers $475 million for COVID-19 costs

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Louisiana health care providers are receiving almost $475 million in federal money meant to help them keep their doors open during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy said Friday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the payments will begin going out by direct deposit on Friday. These are payments to health care providers, not loans, and will not need to be paid back, HHS says.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act approved last month calls for $100 billion in relief funding meant to compensate providers for health care costs and lost revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill sets aside $30 billion for immediate payments. All facilities and providers that received Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements in 2019 are eligible for the initial distribution. Providers will be distributed a portion of the initial $30 billion based on their share of total Medicare FFS reimbursements in 2019, HHS says.

If taking the money, providers must agree not to seek collection of out-of-pocket payments from a COVID-19 patient that are greater than what the patient would have otherwise been required to pay if the care had been provided by an in-network provider.

HHS says the remaining $70 billion will be directed to providers in areas particularly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, rural providers, providers of services with lower shares of Medicare reimbursement or who predominantly serve the Medicaid population, and providers requesting reimbursement for the treatment of uninsured Americans.

“Doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians at Louisiana hospitals have saved countless lives,” Kennedy said. “This $475 million of HHS funding will help our state’s health care providers keep their doors wide open to our families and neighbors.”

As of mid-day Friday, at least 755 Louisiana residents had died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. More than 2,000 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals, the Louisiana Department of Health reported, and almost 500 of them were on ventilators.

More than 19,000 cases had been reported statewide.