Maine awards $25 million in COVID relief support to hospitals, long-term care facilities

Mon, 08/09/2021 - 10:15pm

    AUGUSTA — The Mills Administration announced Monday it is awarding $25 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to 14 hospitals and 96 long-term care facilities to help health care organizations recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release. 

    The awards, which are being allocated by the Maine Departments of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and Health and Human Services (DHHS), use remaining funds from the Maine Health Care Financial Relief Program.

    DHHS announced in May that unclaimed funds from the program would be awarded to support facilities that had documented financial losses from the pandemic between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Health care facilities received notification letters last week about their awards.

    DHHS and DECD previously awarded $5.1 million through the program in December to 53 health care organizations.

    “This funding will help health care organizations recover from the pandemic so they can continue to provide high-quality care to Maine people,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “The grants are part of unprecedented support for Maine’s health care system that not only recognizes its critical role during the COVID-19 pandemic but reflects Governor Mills’ commitment to make high-quality health care affordable and accessible for all Maine residents.”

    “DECD is happy to continue to support this critical infrastructure,” said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. “This grant funding recognizes the immediate needs of the health care industry and provides some financial relief for those who remain on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    The Departments awarded $12.5 million to eligible hospitals and $12.5 million to long-term care facilities based on demonstrated losses and, for long-term care facilities, licensed beds. The average provider award was $227,272, with the awards ranging from $2,861 to $1,054,201.

    Fifty-six percent of potentially eligible organizations applied and, of them, 69 percent qualified for the payments. While additional facilities may have had pandemic-related losses prior to this program’s launch, other Federal and State programs, like the Provider Relief Fund, Paycheck Protection Program and the Maine Economic Recovery Grants, had already offset those losses.

    These grants build on Maine’s significant financial and operational support for health care providers on the front lines of the pandemic.

    Early in the pandemic, DHHS provided immediate support of $10 million to hospitals through supplemental payments and $20 million to nursing facilities, long-term care facilities and other congregate care facilities through temporary rate increases.

    During the pandemic, the Department provided additional funding to congregate care settings experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, personal protective equipment through the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stockpile, and extensive use of the State laboratory for COVID-19 testing, resulting in over 430,000 COVID-19 test results to date at no cost to these facilities.

    Maine health care providers have also received over $660 million directly from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Provider Relief Fund, which was authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

    Additional funding for Maine’s health care providers is forthcoming as passed in the FY22-23 Biennial Budget.

    Hospitals will receive $23 million ($5.4 million general fund) in one-time supplemental payments to further support their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Nursing facilities and residential care facilities will receive $17 million ($6 million general fund) for inflation adjustments in FY22 and an additional $27 million ($9 million general fund) for inflation adjustments and/or rebasing in FY23. In addition, these facilities will also receive a substantial one-time supplemental payment to support their response to COVID-19.

    The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan also includes nearly $20 million to support Maine’s health care workforce, with $2.5 million dedicated to hospital and nursing facility recruitment and retention.