Healthcare providers who missed a Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reporting deadline may get a second chance. In response to overwhelming industry outcry over its attempts to clawback PRF payments, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which currently administers the PRF, will being accepting applications from providers who missed a reporting deadline to file a late report. Requests to file a late report must be filed between April 11 and April 22 and must include an “extenuating circumstance” justifying the request.
The PRF is a $178 billion fund created by Congress through the CARES Act and administered to provide financial relief to healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. HHS has subdivided the PRF into various general and targeted distributions. These distributions were paid to providers in several waves between April 2020 and the present. The first payments under the PRF, in April 2020, were unsolicited and were deposited directly into providers’ bank accounts without prior application or notification. While this infusion of cash was likely a welcome relief at the time, it came with strings attached. The two major requirements for a provider to keep the PRF payment were to only use the funds for specific COVID-related purposes and to file a report with HRSA justifying use of the funds.
The first of these reports were due on September 30, 2021, but that date was later extended into early December 2021. In March 2022, HRSA began sending letters to providers who had not filed reports indicating that they were now required to return the full amount of any PRF funds received within 30 days. After significant outcry from providers, representatives, and industry groups, HRSA has backtracked and will now accept requests to file late reports.
Requests to file late reports must be filed between April 11, 2022 and 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 22, 2022. To file a Request, a provider must first register with the PRF Reporting Portal, if it has not done so already. This requirement may require additional consideration for providers who have never registered for the portal or accepted the terms and conditions of the PRF and were merely “deemed” by HRSA to have accepted the terms. Next, the provider must complete a form indicating the extenuating circumstance that justifies the late reporting. HRSA lists several allowable circumstances, including the death of a key staff member or natural disaster. However, HRSA also includes an internal miscommunication regarding which individual was going to submit the report. The provider must attest to the truthfulness of their chosen extenuating circumstance, but generally need not provide additional documentation. Where HRSA approves the provider’s request to file a late report, the provider will have 10 days from the date of approval to file their PRF report.
For over 35 years, Wachler & Associates has represented healthcare providers and suppliers nationwide in a variety of health law matters. If you or your healthcare entity has any questions pertaining to the Provider Relief Fund or healthcare compliance, please contact an experienced healthcare attorney at 248-544-0888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.