U.S. HHS to give $4.5 billion more to pandemic-hit healthcare providers

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Wednesday it would add $4.5 billion in funding for frontline healthcare providers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The department in October announced $20 billion in funding to help hospitals and medical providers meet increased expenses from rising COVID-19 cases, and to cover lost revenue from the suspension of medical procedures and routine visits.

HHS said the funding would meet close to 90% of the losses healthcare providers have reported from the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of the year.

Payment distribution began on Wednesday and will continue through January 2021, the department said.

HHS said it enhanced funding and distribution to consider the actual revenue losses and expenses attributable to the pandemic, and that previously eligible applicants were invited to apply for additional funding, along with first-time applicants.

The U.S. rolled out its first vaccine against the coronavirus this week, after the Food and Drug Administration authorized a shot from Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech last week.

Another vaccine, Moderna Inc’s, looked set for regulatory authorization this week.