CARES Act Healthcare Provider Relief Fund
COVID-19 Support for Healthcare Providers
By Jennifer Allen
Among the industries most impacted by the COVID-19 is healthcare. However, healthcare providers and professionals that bill Medicare can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has begun distributing $30 billion in funding to those practices that bill the national health insurance program. This move was announced by HHS in a press release on April 10, 2020.
More guidance is certainly in the works, but here are the known highlights as of right now:
- All facilities and providers that received fee-for-services in 2019 are eligible. On April 15, 2020, HHS updated its Provider Relief page to explain that: “Care does not have to be specific to treating COVID-19. HHS broadly views every patient as a possible case of COVID-19.”
- HHS also clarified that healthcare entities that have ceased operations as a result of COVID-19 may still be eligible for funding, provided they meet the generally applicable terms. This was in response to several provider inquiries that they didn’t directly treat COVID-19 patients and worried they had to send the money back.
- It’s a grant that does not need to be repaid as long as you accept the terms and conditions.
- Your amount is determined by your 2019 practice billings. In 2019, Medicare’s total fee-for service-payments were approximately $484 billion. If you have not received your payment yet or want to calculate how much you should receive, divide your 2019 Medicare fee-for-service payments (excluding Medicare Advantage) by $484 billion and then multiplying that ratio by $30 billion.
- Providers will receive payment via ACH or paper check to the account on file with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services with the description “HHSPAYMENT.”
- Within 30 days of receiving the funds, you must confirm the funds were received and agree to the terms and conditions. You’ll need the following data: tax ID, the bank account information for where funds were sent, and the exact amount received.
- The terms and conditions provide a preliminary guideline for how grant funds may be used. They also state that the Secretary of HHS will release additional information about how specifically to report the receipt of grant payments and what documentation must accompany the attestation. This guidance from HHS is not currently available. Be sure to consult your legal counsel.
- If you as the provider do not agree to the terms, the HHS website has steps on how to return the funds.
- This program is different than the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s Accelerated & Advance Payment Program that accelerated future billing in which providers can receive funding now to assist with cash flow needs.
- The remaining $70B in CARES Act relief is still being decided, but that will focus on hot spot areas, rural providers, providers who don’t bill Medicare as much, Medicaid providers, and those treating uninsured.
This is an important step toward helping our nation’s critically important healthcare providers and practices. As guidance continues being issued, we will continue to update you. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses almost beyond measure, but there are options available to help you continue operating. Contact us at any time for assistance.