Maine gets $130 million for health care system

Maine gets $130 million for health care system

November 30, 2021 0 By Christian Wade

Maine health care providers are getting a windfall of federal funding to help buoy medical operations that have been battered by the pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has distributed nearly $130 million in federal funds to at least 315 health care providers in the state through the Provider Relief Fund, which was created by Congress to help health care providers struggling with financial difficulties due to the pandemic.

Release of the federal funds follows a bipartisan push by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and other members of the state’s congressional delegation.

Collins said Maine health care providers, particularly those in rural areas, are having difficulties paying for additional staff, along with COVID-related facility improvements, personal protective equipment, and other expenses. Meanwhile, patients at long-term care facilities have been displaced or fear moving due to nursing home closures, she said.

“The release of this additional funding will help prevent more health care facilities from closing their doors and protect patients’ access to care,” Collins said.

Like many states, Maine’s hospitals saw an estimated 70% of their income dry up as patients avoided doctors visits and hospitals postponed elective procedures to prevent spread of the virus.

Despite an influx of federal aid, almost half of all of the state’s acute care hospitals ended last year with a negative operating margin, according to the Maine Hospital Association.

In September, four Maine nursing homes announced they will be shutting down and displacing 100 residents, while other facilities are struggling to remain open, Collins noted.

Meanwhile, a winter surge in COVID-19 cases that has driven hospitalization to record levels, coupled with staffing shortages, is pushing many of the state’s hospitals to the brink.

Health care groups have been waiting on the Biden administration to release unused PRF funds and other COVID-19 appropriations for health care facilities and providers.

In June, a report by the Government Accountability Office criticized the Biden administration for not moving quickly enough to distribute the money.

At the time, nearly 25% of the $178 billion allocated by Congress for the program had been sent to health care providers, according to the report.

This article was originally posted on Maine gets $130 million for health care system