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HHS extends phase two deadline for Provider Relief Fund distributions

The department will distribute $15 billion from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund to providers that didn't receive funding in the first round.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is extending the second phase application deadline to Friday, August 28, for general distribution to Medicaid, Medicaid managed care, Children's Health Insurance Program and dental providers.

This is the second time HHS has extended the deadline. The first deadline was July 20, extended until August 3. Providers have said they needed more time to apply.

The department has allocated $15 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Provider Relief Fund to be distributed to eligible providers that didn't receive funding during the first round. Applicants can receive up to 2% of their reported revenue from patient care.

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The extension also applies to Medicare providers who missed out on applying during the first phase of Medicare general distribution. These providers can start applying for up to 2% of their annual revenue during the week of August 10.

Additionally, providers who experienced a change in ownership during 2020 and who missed out, or the payments were given to the previous owners can also begin applying for phase two starting the week of August 10.

WHY THIS MATTERS

The federal government has $175 billion for the Provider Relief Fund. Congress allocated $100 billion in the CARES Act and another $75 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act.

The funds go to hospital expenses and lost revenue due to COVID-19, and to help uninsured Americans get testing and treatment.

The Medicare general distribution funds were created to provide financial relief for those providers. In phase one, nearly 335,000 Medicare providers received assistance.

By allocating an additional $15 million, HHS hopes to reach the remaining providers who didn't receive funds during the first phase. With the deadline extension, the department says it is hopeful it has provided as much flexibility as possible while recognizing the constraints on smaller practices already operating on thin margins with limited administrative staff.

THE LARGER TREND

Phase one of the general distribution for Medicare providers included $50 million in funds. An initial $30 million was sent directly to providers to make sure they got the needed money as quickly as possible, according to HHS. It was distributed proportionately to the providers' share of Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements in 2019. Then the additional $20 million went out starting on April 24, based on net patient-revenue submissions from eligible providers.

Following phase one, HHS announced the opening of phase two in June, with an initial deadline for submissions of July 20. That deadline was subsequently pushed back to August 3, due to provider feedback expressing the deadline was too close to the announcement and more time was needed to complete applications. Through conversations with provider organizations, congressional, state and local leaders, HHS came to the conclusion that this second deadline extension would be beneficial to possible recipients.

In addition to these allocations, HHS has distributed $22 billion to hospitals in high-impact locations; $11 billion to providers and hospitals in rural areas; $4.9 billion to skilled nursing facilities; $500 million to tribal hospitals, clinics and urban health centers; and $13 billion to safety-net hospitals.

ON THE RECORD

"From the start, HHS's administration of the Provider Relief Fund has been focused on distributing funding in a way that is fast, fair and transparent," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "Extending the deadline for Medicaid providers and giving certain Medicare providers another shot at funding is another example of our work with providers to ensure as many as possible receive the support they need."

Twitter: @HackettMallory
Email the writer: mhackett@himss.org