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HHS ANNOUNCES ALLOCATION OF $70 BILLION OF CARES ACT PROVIDER RELIEF FUNDS

 

On April 22, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services announced its plans for allocation of the $100 billion Provider Relief Fund (the Fund) created by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. $30 billion of this Fund have previously been disbursed to providers based on their share of 2019 Medicare fee-for-service payments. The remaining $70 billion will be disbursed beginning Friday, April 24, 2020. In addition, HHS announced that the Cares Act Provider Relief Fund Payment Attestation Portal (the Provider Portal) is now open and can be found at https://covid19.linkhealth.com/#/step/1

In a statement announcing the allocation, HHS said that through its allocation of the Fund, it is “working to address both the economic harm across the entire healthcare system due to the stoppage of elective procedures, and addressing the economic impact on providers incurring additional expenses caring for COVID-19 patients, and to do so as quickly and as transparently as possible.”

HHS is allocating $50 billion of the Fund for general distribution to Medicare facilities and providers impacted by COVID-19. The previously distributed $30 billion is part of this general distribution. The remaining $20 billion will be distributed beginning April 24, 2020 with the intent that the entire $50 billion in payments be proportional to eligible providers’ 2018 net patient revenues.  

Payments will be automatically made to providers who have submitted revenue data in cost reports to CMS, but these providers still need to submit their revenue information through the Provider Portal for verification. Providers who have not submitted adequate cost report data are required to submit their revenue data through the Provider Portal to receive payments. In addition, all providers receiving funds from the general distribution need to attest to the terms and conditions, which include intra alia certification that they currently diagnose, test, or care for individuals with possible or actual cases of COVID-9; agreement that they will use the funds to cover health care related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to the coronavirus; and agreement that they will not collect greater out-of-pocket payments from a COVID-19 patient than the amount the patient would have been required to pay if the care had been given by an in-network provider. Payments after April 24, 2020 will be made on a rolling basis. 

The remaining $50 billion of the Fund will be distributed as follows: 

  • $10 billion to hospitals in areas such as New York that have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. HHS has already contacted hospitals eligible for these funds to advise them of the information needed to be provided before midnight on April 23, 2020 to receive these funds.

  • $10 billion for rural health clinics and hospitals, which HHS acknowledged in its statement generally “operate on especially thin margins” and are “more financially exposed to significant declines in revenue or increase in expenses related to COVID-19.”

    These funds will be distributed beginning the week of April 27, 2020. 

 

 

  • $400 to the Indian Health Service

  • The remaining funds will be used to reimburse healthcare providers treating uninsured COVID-19 patients at Medicare rates. The Administration chose to use this avenue to reimburse providers treating uninsured COVID-19 patients rather than to open the enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act. To receive payment, providers need to enroll as provider participants, which they can do beginning April 27, 2020. Claims can be submitted beginning in early May. More information on this program is available at hrsa.gov

For Whatley Kallas, LLP’s earlier article on the CARES Act, please click here and for our earlier article on allocation of the initial $30 billion of the Fund, please click here. HHS’ April 22, 2020 announcement is linked here and the Provider Fund Payment Terms and Conditions are linked here.