On Wednesday, June 28, 2023, Governor Janet Mills announced her Administration is issuing $25 million to Maine hospitals to address ongoing COVID-19-related challenges such as workforce recruitment and retention. This is the second such payment the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has made to hospitals in this Fiscal Year, following a $25 million supplemental payment in October 2022.
Governor Mills proposed these MaineCare payments as part of her emergency Fiscal Year 2023 supplemental budget, which the Legislature passed with bipartisan support in February 2023. DHHS is issuing this last COVID-19-related payment to Maine hospitals today to catalyze their full recovery, building on the Mills Administration's significant financial support for hospitals.
"Maine hospitals were indispensable partners throughout the pandemic. The work of their health care professionals saved lives then, just as it is saving lives now," said Governor Janet Mills. "This investment will advance hospitals' recovery and support the quality care that Maine people expect and deserve."
"This last COVID-19-related payment will help offset lingering costs related to the pandemic and recovery of Maine hospitals, including support for workers who continue to provide quality, accessible health care," said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. "The payment aims to bridge the gap to a reformed MaineCare payment system that promotes equitable, quality health care."
"Maine hospitals are thankful to the Governor and the Legislature for recognizing the great financial burden the COVID pandemic and its aftermath has placed on the health care system," said Steve Michaud, President of the Maine Hospital Association. "This increase in funding comes at a critical time as we continue to address the workforce shortages the pandemic left in its wake."
Hospitals received payments from the $25 million proportional to their pre-pandemicMaineCare revenue. It may be used through July 1, 2024, when MaineCare hospital rate reform, funded with $22.5 million proposed by the Governor and expected to pass the Legislature, is anticipated to begin. DHHS has proposed funding to increase hospital inpatient reimbursement rates through MaineCare as part of its nationally recognized transformation of Maine's rate-setting system.
With this week's payment, the Mills Administration has directed more than $100 million in COVID-19 supplemental payments to Maine hospitals throughout the pandemic. Additionally, the Federal government has directly made funding available to Maine hospitals, for a total of over $600 million. This includes:
- From 2020 to 2022, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services through the Provider Relief Fund directly provided approximately $530 million directly to Maine providers.
- In 2020, DHHS provided an immediate infusion of funding to hospitals totaling $10 million.
- In December 2020, the Mills Administration established the Maine Health Care Financial Relief Grant Program and awarded $2.2 million to hospitals.
- In August 2021, the Mills Administration awarded Maine hospitals $12.5 million which, like the Relief Grants, was funded from the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
- In 2020 and 2021, DHHS passed through new federal grant funding to hospitals, including the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) grants totaling $6.2million.
The Mills Administration has also provided operational and workforce support to Maine hospitals in response to the pandemic, including:
- In 2021 and 2022, deploying a total of 230 members of the Maine National Guard to help maintain critical care during COVID-19 surges, such as by administering monoclonal antibody treatments, caring for people convalescing from COVID-19 in special units, and providing nutrition and other supports for hospital staff.
- In 2021 and 2022, securing Federal clinical staff to complement the non-clinical work of the Maine National Guard in hospitals.
- From 2020 to 2022, mobilizing the Maine Responds Emergency Health Volunteer System that organizes health care, public health, and volunteers to respond to emergency situations and engaging 50 clinicians to serve in hospitals during surges to help administer therapeutic treatments for COVID-19
- Starting in 2021, providing flexibility for acute-care hospitals to use Critical Access Hospitals to alleviate capacity constraints.
- Starting in 2021, the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan has started investing $20 million in health care workforce initiatives such as supporting hospital-based training programs, a loan repayment program for physicians, and numerous initiatives to train more nurses.