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Provider Relief Fund Facts Clarified

Provider Relief Fund Facts Clarified

There’s no excuse for not keeping careful records of your healthcare-related expenses attributable to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) now. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has clarified what those are.

Hazy Requirements Leave Providers Wanting

In accepting CARES Act Provider Relief Fund money, HHS initially said that providers must agree to terms and conditions. This included that the funds “only be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, and that the Payment shall reimburse the Recipient only for health care related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to coronavirus.”

But many providers were uneasy about accepting the funds since the requirements were hazy.

“‘Health care related expenses attributable to coronavirus’ is a broad term that may cover a range of items and services purchased to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus,” HHS later acknowledged on its Provider Relief Fund webpage.

HHS Explains Terms Further

In a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, updated June 2, HHS offers some examples of attributable expenses, including these items particularly relevant for home care providers:

  • 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; and
  • Acquiring additional resources, including equipment, supplies, staffing, and technology to expand or preserve care delivery.

HHS also acknowledges, “Providers can use their Provider Relief Fund payment for such expenses incurred on any date, so long as those expenses were attributable to coronavirus and were used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” However, HHS continues “it would be highly unusual for providers to have incurred eligible expenses prior to January 1, 2020.”

In another welcome clarification, HHS specifies that “The term ‘lost revenues that are attributable to coronavirus’ means any revenue that a healthcare provider loses due to coronavirus. This may include revenue losses associated with fewer outpatient visits, canceled elective procedures or services, or increased uncompensated care.”

Further, HHS says, “Providers can use Provider Relief Fund payments to cover any cost that the lost revenue otherwise would have covered, so long as that cost prevents, prepares for, or responds to coronavirus. Thus, these costs do not need to be specific to providing care for possible or actual coronavirus patients, but the lost revenue that the Provider Relief Fund payment covers must have been lost due to coronavirus.”

HHS also “encourages the use of funds to cover lost revenue so that providers can respond … by maintaining healthcare delivery capacity,” according to the FAQ. Examples include using the funds to cover payroll, health insurance, rent or mortgage, and electronic health record fees.

Reports Due July 10

HHS requires quarterly reporting to substantiate coronavirus-related costs, with the first due date on July 10 for the quarter ending June 30.

Get the FAQs

Read the most up-to-date CARES Act Provider Relief Fund FAQ to learn more.

Rebecca Johnson

About Has 30 Posts

Rebecca L. Johnson, BS, is a development editor for AAPC newsletters. She has covered the home health and hospice markets for 20 years.

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