Michigan will receive $10.8 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Provider Relief Fund to support the state’s tribal response to COVID-19.

Nationally, $500 million in payments from the Provider Relief Fund went to the Indian Health Service (IHS), tribal hospitals, clinics, and urban health centers, officials said Saturday.

The pandemic has disproportionately impacted IHS providers and programs. Many have experienced shortages of personal protective equipment, and increased labor costs due to employees being exposed to the virus, department officials said.

At least 233 facilities across the Indian health system serve as the only health care provider for IHS and non-IHS beneficiaries, “making them critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and reopening America,” the department said.

“The Indian Health Service, along with our tribal and urban Indian organization partners, are delivering crucial services under extraordinary circumstances,” said IHS Director Rear Adm. Michael D. Weahkee. “The resources provided by the Provider Relief Fund will make a real difference in our ability to fulfill the IHS mission of raising the physical, mental, social and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives during this pandemic.”

The Department of Health and Human Services has allocated 4% of available funding for Urban Indian Health Programs, consistent with the percent of patients served by Urban Indian Organizations. The remaining funding will be divided equally between hospitals and clinics, officials said.

“The Trump Administration is making a targeted allocation from the funds Congress provided to send $500 million to Indian healthcare facilities,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar, in a press release. “Combined with other funding, supplies, and flexibility around telehealth, we are working with tribal governments to do everything we can to support heroic Indian healthcare workers and protect Indian Country from COVID-19.”

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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