Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) issued a news release announcing a delay to the February 15, 2021 reporting deadline for the Provider Relief Fund Program (PRF) due to the recent passage of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Beginning today, however, PRF recipients may begin registering for gateway access to the Reporting Portal to which they will ultimately submit their information in compliance with the new reporting requirements HHS is issuing. In addition, the reporting requirements have been updated including significant changes to HHS’s lost revenue guidance.
PROVIDER RELIEF FUND REPORTING DELAYED – NO DEADLINE ESTABLISHED
The February 15, 2021 PRF reporting deadline is formally delayed but HHS has not yet established a new deadline. According to the news release, “HHS previously planned to open the Reporting Portal based on this previously released information by today, January 15, 2021, with the first deadline for submissions on February 15, 2021. In late December, however, Congress passed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act which added another $3 billion in funding to the PRF program and included language specific to reporting requirements. HHS has been working to update the PRF reporting requirements to be consistent with this new law. That said, as HHS has done in the past, the department wanted to give recipients ample time to familiarize themselves with the updated reporting requirements well in advance of required submission deadlines”.
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
Recipients of PRF payments exceeding $10,000 in aggregate must register in the Provider Relief Fund Reporting Portal. This is a first step that must be completed before the reporting is available. At present, there is no deadline for completing registration in the portal. Recipients will later receive a notification about when they should complete the second step of submitting reporting requirements information on the use of funds. HRSA will send a broadcast email to the email address you provide during the registration process.
The registration process will take at least 20 minutes to complete and must be completed in one session. You cannot save a partially complete registration. Make sure you have all of the information required to register before you begin.
PRF REPORTING REQUIREMENTS UPDATED
Reporting requirements were updated to include changes passed last month in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA). These reporting requirements do not apply to funds from: Nursing Home Infection Control, Rural Health Clinics Testing, and COVID-19 Claims Reimbursement to Health Care Providers and Facilities for Testing, Treatment and Vaccine Administration for the Uninsured recipients.
We are still analyzing the changes and related impact, but the most significant are as follows:
Broadens Lost Revenue Definition
The updated requirement significantly broadens the definition of lost revenue which is very good news for most providers. Recipients may now choose to apply PRF payments toward lost revenue using one of the following options:
- Difference between 2019 and 2020 actual patient care revenue
- Difference between 2020 budgeted and 2020 actual patient care revenue. If recipients elect to use 2020 budgeted patient care revenue to calculate lost revenue, they must use a budget that was established and approved prior to March 27, 2020. Providers using 2020 budgeted patient care revenue to calculate the amount of lost revenues they may permissibly claim will be required to submit additional documentation at the time of reporting
- Calculated by any reasonable method of estimating revenue. If a recipient wishes to use an alternate reasonable methodology for calculating lost revenues attributable to coronavirus, the recipient must submit a description of the methodology, an explanation of why the methodology is reasonable, and establish how the identified lost revenues were in fact a loss attributable to coronavirus, as opposed to a loss caused by any other source. All recipients seeking to use an alternate methodology face an increased likelihood of an audit by HRSA. HRSA will notify a recipient if their proposed methodology is not reasonable, including because it does not establish with a reasonable certainty that claimed lost revenues were caused by coronavirus. If HRSA determines that a recipient’s proposed alternate methodology is not reasonable, the recipient must resubmit its report within 30 days of notification using either 2019 calendar year actual revenue or 2020 calendar year budgeted revenue to calculate lost revenues attributable to coronavirus.
Clarifies Reporting Entity
A parent organization may allocate all or any portion of PRF to eligible subsidiaries, including targeted distributions, but the reporting of reallocated PRF remains with the original recipient of the funds. If a parent organization has subsidiary TINs that either received General Distribution payments directly from HRSA or which were transferred to them by their parent organization, the parent entity may report on the use of these General Distribution payments. This requirement stands regardless of whether the parent or the subsidiary attested to accepting the payments. The entity reporting on the funds becomes the Reporting Entity. The original Targeted Distribution recipients, regardless of whether the parent or subsidiary received the payment, and regardless of whether that original recipient subsequently transferred it, becomes the Reporting Entity and must report on the use of funds in accordance with the CRRSA.
Eliminates “Maintaining Healthcare Delivery Capacity” Language
It appears the new reporting requirements may narrow the definition of allowable expenses attributable to coronavirus with the elimination of language related to “maintaining healthcare delivery capacity”. HHS’s previous guidance stated “Expenses attributable to coronavirus may be incurred in both direct patient care and overhead activities related to treatment of confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus, preparing for possible or actual coronavirus cases, maintaining healthcare delivery capacity, which includes operating and maintaining facilities, etc.” The newly updated guidance, however, states “Expenses attributable to coronavirus may be incurred in both direct patient care and overhead activities related to preventing, preparing for, and responding to coronavirus.” We will monitor the impact of this change, as new information is available. HRSA has provided these examples of allowable expenses.
The HHS guidance on the provider relief funds has been ever changing and often conflicting. The FAQs continue to be updated frequently. HW&Co. is here to assist you in any way we can. Please visit the HW&Co. COVID-19 resource center on our website for additional resources or contact your HW Healthcare Advisor if you need assistance.
Disclaimer: Information in this article is subject to change and is based upon our current understanding as of the issue date. This is a constantly evolving process as HHS has been issuing new or changed guidance on a frequent basis.