Two significant areas of the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) are ripe for updates by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): the current June 30, 2021 deadline for recipients to spend PRF payments and the long-awaited reporting requirements. 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.
Currently providers who received payments under the PRF generally have until June 30, 2021 to use the funds. The funds must be used in specific ways as specified by HHS and often require careful documentation and accounting. The June 30, 2021 deadline was initially set early in the pandemic, but HHS has released guidance as recently as March 2021 that reinforces the deadline and provides that HHS expects that providers with unused PRF fund after June 30 will return any unused funds to HHS. However, as the pandemic and the corresponding public health emergency declaration appear likely to extend beyond June 30, 2021, providers are likely to continue to have PRF-eligible expenses well after HHS’s deadline. It would therefore likely benefit many providers for HHS to extend the June 30, 2021 deadline. Indeed, the American Hospital Association (AHA) recently penned a letter to HHS requesting providers be allowed to use PRF fund until the end of the declared public health emergency.
Another reason to extend the June 30, 2021 deadline would be that HHS has yet to release when providers will be required to submit PRF reporting. The statutes that created the PRF and the terms and conditions of the payment to which recipients were required to attest both require recipients to file reports with HHS regarding use of the funds. While HHS has released some details on the form and content of reports and set up a reporting portal, HHS has repeatedly pushed back the release of detailed reporting requirements and the due date of reports. 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. A concrete reporting timeline that aligns with an extension of the June 30, 2021 deadline to spend PRF funds would likely be welcomed by providers struggling to plan and budget, while also providing critical care during a public health emergency.
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.