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Providers get additional COVID-19 distribution, but must act today to keep original funding

HHS is providing an additional $250 million, while giving hospitals until the end of the day to submit their revenue information.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is providing an additional $250 million to aid U.S. healthcare systems treating patients and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said on Tuesday.

This is in addition to $100 million announced in March. As authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, HHS has now provided $350 million to health centers and systems for pandemic response.

The funds are intended to help hospitals and other healthcare entities train workforces, expand telemedicine and the use of virtual healthcare, procure supplies and equipment, and coordinate effectively across regional, state and jurisdictional, and local healthcare facilities to respond to the coronavirus.

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In addition to directly supporting healthcare capacity for a COVID-19 patient surge, the funding is meant to advance the mission of the National Special Pathogen System to enhance the national capacity and capability to respond to highly infectious diseases – both now and in the future. 

ADDITIONAL IMPACT

While giving hospitals additional millions, HHS has announced that today is the last day for providers to accept the terms and conditions and submit their revenue information to support receiving $50 billion from the Provider Relief Fund of the CARES Act.

All providers who automatically received an additional General Distribution payment prior to 5 p.m., Friday, April 24, must provide HHS with an accounting of their annual revenues by submitting tax forms or financial statements. These providers also have to agree to the program terms and conditions if they wish to keep the funds.

Providers who have cases pending before the department for adjudication with regard to eligibility for general distribution funding will not be impacted by this closure. All cases needing individual adjudication will need to be received by HHS no later than today.

The submission of tax forms or financial statements to the portal will also serve as an application for additional funding for those providers that have not already received an additional General Distribution payment. If these providers do not submit their revenue information by the end of the day, they will no longer be eligible to receive potential additional funding from the $50 billion General Distribution.

THE LARGER TREND

The CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act provided $175 billion in relief funds to hospitals and other healthcare providers, including those on the front lines of the coronavirus response. This funding supports healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19 and ensures uninsured Americans can receive coronavirus treatment.

HHS previously announced that $50 billion of the Provider Relief Fund was allocated for general distribution to facilities and providers that bill Medicare and were impacted by COVID-19, based on eligible providers' net patient revenue. To expedite providers getting money as quickly as possible, HHS distributed $30 billion immediately, proportionate to providers' share of Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements in 2019.

Then, beginning on April 24, HHS began distributing an additional $20 billion to providers based on their share of net patient revenue, and began accepting submissions from eligible providers of their financial data. Providers have 45 days from the date they received a payment to attest and accept the terms and conditions or return the funds. Providers that do not log into the provider portal and accept the terms and conditions after 45 days of receipt will be deemed to have accepted them.

Other allocations have included $12 billion for hospitals in COVID-19 high-impact areas, $10 billion for rural providers, and $400 million for tribal healthcare providers. Some providers may receive further, separate funding, including skilled nursing facilities, dentists and providers that solely take Medicaid. A portion of the Provider Relief Fund is being used to reimburse healthcare providers, generally at Medicare rates, for COVID-related treatment of the uninsured.

ON THE RECORD

"While our country mourns those we have lost from this pandemic, we continue to support America's hospitals and heroic frontline healthcare workers who are treating COVID-19 patients and saving American lives," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "This additional funding secured from Congress by President Trump will help healthcare providers prepare for and treat patients with COVID-19. By supporting coordination among different healthcare facilities across a region, HHS is helping communities care for COVID-19 patients while also addressing day-to-day medical needs."
 

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com