Walmart returned $12M from relief fund meant for struggling medical providers

Walmart returned $12M from relief fund meant for struggling medical providers
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Walmart has returned $12.6 million in taxpayer money that was part of a fund intended for cash-strapped doctors and health care providers.

The retail chain received the money along with about 500,000 other providers due to the health care services it provides, including a handful of coronavirus testing sites it set up during the pandemic. Walmart denied applying for the aid in a statement to Business Insider on Tuesday.

"Walmart did not request support from the Provider Relief Fund to get through this crisis," the company said. "The fund is intended to help hospitals and frontline medical providers, so we quickly contacted the Department of Health and Human Services about the disbursement and returned the funds."

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Health and Human Services (HHS) distributed about $30 billion to health care providers automatically between April 10 and April 17. The department had previously confirmed some funding recipients had returned funds, but said "we do not plan to release the names of those who return or do not accept the funding."

In a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief Seema Verma, Walmart said it did not wish to accept the money.

The first $30 billion in provider funds under the coronavirus relief CARES Act was available to any doctor, medical practice or hospital that bills Medicare, while a second $20 billion round of funding distributed in April was allocated on the basis of a formula based on their total revenue. The second round specifically targeted struggling providers in rural areas, those hit particularly hard by the virus and those who provided care for uninsured coronavirus patients.

Several large chain restaurants have previously announced they would return federal loans they received under a different fund created by the federal CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program. Recipients who returned their loans included Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Sweetgreen and Shake Shack.