On October 28, 2020, HHS announced that it would distribute $333 million to nursing homes that demonstrated significant reductions in COVID-19-related infections and deaths in September. “These $333 million in performance payments are going to nursing homes that have maintained safer environments for residents between August and September,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. This is the first of four rounds of performance incentive payments that HHS plans to make to nursing homes by the end of 2020 for curbing COVID-19 infections and deaths.
Funding for these payments comes from the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement (PPPCHE) Act. HHS announced in early September that it was allocating $2 billion from the Provider Relief Fund to make targeted performance incentive payments to nursing homes in the final quarter of 2020.
The performance incentive payments will be distributed over four monthly performance periods, spanning from September to December 2020. Whether a nursing home qualifies for payment in a given period, and the amount of payment it will receive, depends on its COVID-19 infection and mortality rates, as measured by data from the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) Long Term Care Facility (LTCF) COVID-19 module. To qualify for payment in a given period, a nursing home must have a rate of COVID-19 infections that fall below the rate of infection in the county in which it is located, and a rate of COVID-19 deaths below a nationally established performance threshold.
In September 2020, 10,501 out of 13,795 nursing homes (76 percent) met the infection and mortality criteria to qualify for payment. These facilities will receive payments in the first week of November. A state-by-state breakdown of the first round of performance incentive payment distributions is available here.