HHS announces new half billion incentive payment distribution to nursing homes

Dec. 8, 2020

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) operating under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced it will distribute $523 million in second round performance payments to over 9,000 nursing homes. These nursing homes are being rewarded for successfully reducing COVID-19 related infections and deaths between September and October.

In August, HHS announced plans to distribute $5 billion in additional Provider Relief Fund (PRF) payments to nursing homes from which $2 billion would be dedicated to establishing an incentive-based program that rewards nursing homes that create and maintain safe environments for their residents. In October, HHS announced the first round of awardees receiving $331 million in payments for keeping new COVID-19 infection and mortality rates among residents lower than the communities they serve – as analyzed against CDC data between August and September. This announcement is the second of five evaluation cycles rewarding nursing homes for their performance reducing nursing home infection and mortality rates. Nursing homes will begin receiving payments December 9.

HHS found that between September and October, of the 13,251 eligible nursing homes, 9,248, or 69 percent, met the incentive program's infection control criteria. While less than the first cycle, the collective efforts of these nursing homes resulted in over 3,900 fewer infections relative to the rates seen in the communities where they exist. Against the mortality criteria, 9,128, or 68 percent of eligible nursing homes, achieved outcomes that met or exceeded the expected COVID-19 mortality rate for their facility.

This announcement rewards nursing homes for a period in time. HHS recognizes COVID-19 is a fluid challenge and it continues to take a devastating toll on nursing homes stretched thin and disproportionately impacted due in part to factors such as their congregate setting and the existing vulnerabilities of older residents with comorbidities. This new round of incentive payments will bolster the $15 billion already distributed to nursing homes in both Targeted and General Distribution PRF funding. Recipients may use this funding to acquire additional personal protective equipment or other efforts to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

HHS is reminding all certified nursing homes that free interactive training and mentoring is available through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to advance COVID-19 preparedness, safety, and infection control. To date, only half of all U.S. nursing homes have enrolled but registration remains open. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also has a free training program for nursing homes. These are vital resources nursing homes should employ to combat this pandemic.

HHS has the release.

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.