HHS Publishes New Guidance on How Health Care Providers Can Use Provider Relief Funds
As a follow-up to our last alert confirming the submission deadline of today, June 3, for revenue information to comply with COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund requirements, we wanted to share some clarifying information.
You still must sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agree to the Terms and Conditions within 90 days of payment issuance. Should you choose to reject the funds, you must also complete the attestation to indicate this. The Payment Portal will guide you through the attestation process to accept or reject the funds.
Some additional clarification was provided related to the second payment application. If you are not ready to attest to a payment, but want to be considered for a complete General Distribution payment, you may reject the payment, initiate the return of the payment, and submit the requested revenue documents necessary to facilitate HHS calculation of your total final payment through the General Distribution Portal by June 3. Rejection of an initial payment will not preclude a provider from receiving their total general distribution amount that is approximately 2 percent of revenues.
Of particular note, HHS indicated that appropriate uses of provider relief funds, under certain conditions, may include ongoing, typical operating expenses such as rent and payroll expenses. Below is the new language posted by HHS:
Lost Revenue Attributable to Coronavirus
Any revenue that a provider lost due to coronavirus is eligible, including losses associated with lower visit volume, cancelled elective procedures, or increased uncompensated care. Providers can use Provider Relief Fund payments to cover any cost that lost revenue otherwise would have covered, so long as that cost prevents, prepares for, or responds to coronavirus and it is reimbursed (or obligated to be reimbursed) by another source. These costs DO NOT need to be specific to providing care for possible or actual coronavirus patients; however, the lost revenue covered by the Provider Relief Fund must have been lost due to coronavirus. Eligible uses include:
- Employee or contractor payroll
- Employee health insurance
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Equipment lease payments
- Electronic health record licensing fees
Providers should carefully review this update from HHS, as this change may impact their decision to apply for additional funding. Please note that providers are still subject to reporting and government oversight associated with the management and use of these funds, which includes careful accounting documenting clear designation of the separation of sources and uses.
Providers who were debating applying for the second round now have important guidance to inform their decision.