The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the whole nation for close to three years. The impact of this protracted public health emergency has not been uniform—with some localities experiencing more-significant outbreaks, and some impacted hospitals and health systems having fewer resources for effective response than others.

Having sufficient and timely federal government funding to ensure adequate staffing, supplies and equipment, and space to care for patients during the pandemic could be critical to sustaining clinical operations in facilities across the United States.

Since early 2020, the federal government allocated $5.2 trillion in pandemic funding across different sectors. The Department of Health and Human Services Provider Relief Fund allocated $178 billion (PDF) to help health providers prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 and to cover expenses and lost revenue related to the pandemic. The Federal Emergency Management Agency obligated $56 billion in COVID-19 public assistance to date, including funding for hospitals and health systems.

A closer look at federal funding of health care entities during the pandemic might reveal opportunities for COVID-19–specific cost centers. Others developed time-entry codes (PDF) for providers to report time spent on COVID-19–related care.

Such efforts can facilitate access to more readily available and accurate COVID-19–related hospital and health system cost data for reporting in requests for federal funding. Implementing these and other strategies to optimally track patient care–related costs in health care settings could be considered for both routine and emergency cost reporting during future incidents.

Read the full article about public health funding by Mahshid Abir and Jessie Riposo at RAND.