Maine DHHS Awards $5.2M in Relief Grants

Funds support hospitals and nursing homes serving MaineCare members during COVID-19 pandemic

AUGUSTA, ME (STL.News) The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced today that it has awarded $5.2 million in grants to 54 health care organizations that serve residents with MaineCare to help sustain vital health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Maine Health Care Financial Relief Program, announced in November, is modeled on the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development’s (DECD) Maine Economic Recovery Grant program.  Health care organizations that were ineligible for funding through the DECD program, such as hospitals and nursing homes of any size and health care providers with over 250 employees, were eligible for these grants.  The program is backed by federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds and provides up to $100,000 in financial relief to an organization to address business disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  To qualify, health care organizations must have served MaineCare members in 2020.

The bulk of the funding was awarded to Maine hospitals and nursing homes, with grants also received by providers of children’s behavioral health and home health and hospice care.

“These grants offer new, immediate relief to hospitals and nursing homes that are providing vital health care throughout Maine,”said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.  “As we continue to learn more about additional sources of federal relief funding, these grants will support Maine’s health providers at a critical time.”

“Health care providers around the state continue to work tirelessly to care for Mainers on the front lines of the pandemic,” said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development.  “We are happy to support this critical infrastructure.”

DECD is administering the grant program in coordination with DHHS. The award amounts were based on demonstrated need, accounting for other sources of funding providers have accessed, to offset revenue losses related to the pandemic.

As with the Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program, the Maine Health Care Financial Relief grants may be used to cover expenses including: payroll costs and expenses; rent or mortgage payments for business facilities; utilities payments; necessary operating expenses; expenses incurred to replenish inventory or other necessary re-opening expenses; purchase of personal protective equipment required by the business or business-related equipment.  Funds must be spent on operations strictly within Maine. Recipients are liable for any misuse of funds, and the grants are subject to audit.

The grants build on DHHS’ increased financial support to MaineCare providers in response to the pandemic. DHHS has provided more than $57 million in State and Federal funds to MaineCare providers as direct assistance, including supplemental payments to hospitals, temporary rate increases for nursing facilities and other congregate care providers, incentive payments for child and behavioral health providers, and acceleration of prior planned rate increases.  The State has also provided considerable COVID-19 testing support to providers, particularly for Nursing Facilities and other congregate care settings, through use of the Health and Environmental Testing Lab (HETL) and through direct reimbursement.

Maine health care providers have also received direct support of nearly $500 million from the Federal government’s coronavirus Provider Relief Fund.  Additionally, some health care providers were eligible for previous rounds of DECD’s Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program, which in total provided $235 million to 5,294 businesses and nonprofits across the state.