The Department of Health and Human Services will begin distributing $10 billion in the days ahead to rural health care providers responding to patients with COVID-19.

According to HHS, the funding will be distributed to rural acute care general hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), and Community Health Centers.

“HHS has put these funds out as quickly as possible, after gathering data to ensure that they are going to the providers who need them the most,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

Hospitals and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) will receive a minimum base payment plus a percent of their annual expenses, according to HHS.

RHCs will receive a minimal level of support no less than $100,000, including additional payment based on operating costs. CAHs will receive a minimum level of support of no less than $1,000,000 with additional payment based on operating costs.

The National Rural Health Association was pleased the Trump administration’s announcement.

“The funding announced hereon is a significant insertion of operating capital for rural providers of care across the nation,” Brock Slabach, senior vice president of member services at the National Rural Health Association told Agri-Pulse. “This demonstrates their appreciation for the difficult circumstances rural providers face as they deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Nearly half the rural hospitals across the country were already struggling financially before the coronavirus hit the U.S., leaving health care facilities scrambling to find cash to fight the virus.

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Many of them have had to shut their doors because healthy patients have delayed care and hospitals have canceled elective surgeries.

Providers who are eligible will begin receiving funds “in the coming days” through direct deposit according to the physical address of the facilities as reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Health Resources and Services Administration, regardless of their affiliation with organizations located in urban areas.

HHS is also distributing $12 billion to 395 hospitals who provided inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients through April 10, and $2 billion of that will be distributed to the hospitals based on their Medicare and Medicaid disproportionate share and uncompensated care payments.

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