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HHS Issues Slew of Clarifications for Provider Relief Fund Recipients

Posted: June 26, 2020

After announcing plans to distribute an addition $15 billion to participants in state Medicaid and CHIP programs, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a number of clarifications for providers who received funds from the general distribution fund.

Many rheumatologists have been concerned with attestation, accounting, and usage requirements associated with funds received from the general distribution fund.

For example, many have wondered is there is a set period of time in which providers must use funds received to cover expenses or lost revenues associated with the pandemic. On June 22nd, HHS clarified that providers may use their provider relief payments for “as long as they have eligible expenses or lost revenue.” If providers have leftover funds that that they cannot use for expenses, or losses that meet the terms and conditions set forth by HHS once the pandemic ends, those funds must be returned to HHS.

In addition, the sudden appearance of provider relief funds has left many practices with questions about what expenses are eligible to be reimbursed with provider relief fund payments. On June 19th, HHS issued a lengthy clarification regarding which expenses are considered “attributable to coronavirus”:

  • Supplies used to provide healthcare services for possible or actual COVID-19 patients;
  • Equipment used to provide healthcare services for possible or actual COVID-19 patients;
  • Workforce training;
  • Developing and staffing emergency operation centers;
  • Reporting COVID-19 test results to federal, state, or local governments;
  • Building or constructing temporary structures to expand capacity for COVID-19 patient care or to provide healthcare services to non-COVID-19 patients in a separate area from where COVID-19 patients are being treated; and
  • Acquiring additional resources, including facilities, equipment, supplies, healthcare practices, staffing, and technology to expand or preserve care delivery.

HHS also clarified that use of provider relief fund payments to cover lost revenue do not need to be costs related to treating possible and actual coronavirus patients. However the lost revenue must be directly attributable to the pandemic (i.e. fewer outpatient visits or canceled procedures). HHS indicated a few examples in which providers may apply the funds:

  • Employee or contractor payroll;
  • Employee health insurance;
  • Rent or mortgage payments; Equipment lease payments; and
  • Electronic health record licensing fees.

The full usage guidance can be found on pages 6,7, and 8 of the FAQ linked below.

Read the Full FAQs