(CNN)The Biden administration has yet to name a point person for the $178 billion Provider Relief Fund, according to a senior administration official.
Congress created the fund last year to help hospitals and other health care providers struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.Under the previous administration, the role fell to a deputy secretary, but the Biden administration has not yet decided if that is how it will handle the fund, the official said, noting that it is still staffing up the agency.The fund is run by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The acting administration is briefing senior level staff on the fund weekly.Congress last year established the Provider Relief Fund to help hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers pay for coronavirus-related expenses and offset revenue losses from postponing elective procedures. Hospitals and nursing homes urged the Biden administration and Congress to add more money to the fund in its $1.9 trillion relief package last month, but lawmakers only set aside an additional $8.5 billion for rural hospitals and providers.Read MoreHospitals contended early last month that only $4.4 billion was set to remain in the fund by the end of March, due to a provision in December’s $900 billion relief deal that required more money be distributed. Yet the pandemic remains a source of financial stress for many medical centers, they contend. They continue to treat many coronavirus patients, who require more intensive and costly care, and are still paying a hefty premium for staff, particularly nurses, and personal protective equipment. At the same time, many are seeing fewer non-Covid patients since some people remain reluctant to go to health care facilities for fear of contracting the virus.An HHS official told CNN that “officials in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources (ASFR) provided regular briefings to the transition team on the PRF and continue to meet regularly with senior HHS leadership as the administration reviews all programs and policies including considerations for the PRF program.”The news was first reported by STAT.