New Relief Funding
Last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it will make $25.5 billion in COVID-19 relief funding available to providers. Specifically, HHS described how it will distribute $17 billion through the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) and $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding for providers who serve rural patients.
The Phase 4 PRF distribution will be made available to a broad range of providers to compensate for lost revenue and increased expenses associated with the pandemic that occurred between July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021. The amount of each award will be determined based on the size of the practice and the amount of Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP patients they treat. For these Phase 4 payments, eligible smaller providers will receive reimbursements at a higher rate than larger providers.
The applications portal for this PRF distribution will open on Sept. 29, 2021. You must complete an application to be eligible for these funds.
Health Resources and Services Administration will use existing Medicaid, CHIP and Medicare claims data in calculating payments. PRF recipients will be required to notify HHS of any merger with, or acquisition of, another health care provider during the period in which they can use the payments. Providers who report a merger or acquisition may be more likely to be audited to confirm their funds were used for coronavirus-related costs.
Reporting Deadline Grace Period
Additionally, HHS is granting providers an extra 60 days beyond the September 30th deadline to complete their PRF Reporting requirements for the first PRF distribution. HHS will not initiate collection activities or similar enforcement actions for noncompliant providers during this 60-day grace period. Deadlines to use funds and the Reporting Time Period will not change.
Phase 3 PRF Transparency
Separate from these distributions, HHS released detailed information about the methodology it used to calculate Phase 3 PRF payments. HHS will allow providers to request a reconsideration if they believe their Phase 3 payment was calculated incorrectly. Further details on this Phase 3 reconsideration process are forthcoming.