On January 15, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released further updates on the reporting requirements for entities that received payments from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). HHS also pushed back the opening of the PRF reporting portal. The PRF is a $175 billion fund created by Congress through the CARES Act and administered by HHS to provide financial relief to healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. HHS has subdivided the PRF into various general and targeted distributions.
Acceptance of a PRF payment is conditioned on, among other things, the provider agreeing to use the funds only for healthcare related expenses and lost revenue attributable to coronavirus, and to file reports demonstrating compliance with the conditions of the payment. Through previous guidance, HHS established that, when reviewing a recipient’s use of the PRF payment, it would first apply the payment to healthcare related expenses, then apply any remainder to lost revenue. The new guidance outlines three ways that recipients may calculate their “lost revenue attributable to coronavirus.”
First, a recipient may report the difference between 2019 and 2020 actual patient care revenue. Recipients who choose this method must submit to HHS their 2019 revenue from patient care payer mix, broken down quarterly. Second, a recipient may report the difference between 2020 budgeted and 2020 actual patient care revenue. Recipients who choose this method must submit their 2020 budget, which must have been in place prior to March 27, 2020. Third, a recipient may use “any reasonable method of estimating revenue.” Recipients who choose an alternate methodology must submit to HHS a description of the methodology and an explanation of why it is reasonable. HHS may reject the recipient’s methodology and require them to utilize one of the two pre-approved methodologies. Recipients should also be aware that HHS has warned that recipients who use alternative methodologies are more likely to face an audit of their use of the PRF payment.
The new guidance included other updates as well. For recipients who held their PRF payment in an interest-bearing account, any interest earned on the PRF payment must be reported to HHS and is subject to the same terms and conditions as the payment itself. Further, HHS is now allowing the parent company of a subsidiary who received a Targeted Distribution under the PRF to transfer the Targeted Distribution to another subsidiary. However, HHS has indicated that such a transfer increases the likelihood of audit.
The PRF reporting portal had been scheduled to open on January 15, 2021. Recipients can log in and register but are currently unable to report data. HHS has not announced a revised date when reporting through the portal will open. The first reports had initially been due on February 15, 2021, but HHS has pushed this date back. HHS has not released a new date when reports are due but has indicated that recipients will receive a notification when reporting must be completed. HHS has also indicated they will issue an FAQ document and offer Q-and-A webinars to answer questions about the reporting process.
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.