More than $560 million in provider relief fund (PRF) phase four distribution payments reached more than 4,100 healthcare institutions across the United States in February 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The funding will be used to help healthcare institutions prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including maintaining operations at facilities and recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals during the workforce shortage.

“Healthcare providers have continued to lead the fight against COVID-19 from the frontlines,” Carole Johnson, administrator of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), said. “PRF is an important resource in helping to support this work and sustain health services and the dedicated healthcare workforce across the country.”

At the time of HHS’s February 2022 announcement, more than 78,000 institutions had received nearly $11.5 billion in PRF phase four payments and 44,000 received nearly $7.5 billion in HRSA American Rescue Plan (ARP) rural payments.

HHS said that with the funding, “nearly $19 billion will have been distributed from PRF and ARP rural provider funding since November 2021.”

According to HHS, phase four payments have an “increased focus on equity, including reimbursing a higher percentage of losses for smaller providers and incorporating bonus payments for providers who serve Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Medicare beneficiaries.”

“PRFs have been a lifeline for healthcare providers across the country,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “From providing life-saving care to tackling workforce challenges, these funds will help many healthcare facilities weather the pandemic’s continued impact.”