Growing Concerns About Changes to COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund

In our September 25 post titled “HHS Publishes Reporting Requirements for Provider Relief Fund Recipients and Changes Lost Revenue Calculation,” we reported on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) new Post-Payment Reporting Requirements applicable to providers who received payments of more than $10,000 from the Provider Relief Fund and changes to the lost revenue calculation. Concerns have been expressed about these changes.  On September 25, 2020, the American Hospital Association (AHA) wrote a letter to HHS asking it to reinstate the COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reporting requirements outlined in HHS’s June 19 frequently asked question that defined both expenses and lost revenues attributable to COVID-19.  The June guidance defines “lost revenue” as any revenue lost to COVID-19, while the September formula for lost revenue is significantly narrower.  On October 9, 2020, the AHA reported that a bipartisan group of 32 senators signed a letter to HHS expressing concerns about changes to the COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund reporting requirements:  “We have grave concerns this change in reporting requirements for funds received from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) will create uncertainty and financial hardship for hospitals in our states, particularly in rural areas. In the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, our health care providers need more certainty, not less.” In a separate letter, 22 Senate Democrats urged HHS to reinstate the original June reporting requirements: “We are concerned that this change in reporting requirements changes the terms of the relief as providers initially understood them based on the initial June guidelines—further exacerbating the financial challenges and uncertainty that these systems continue to grapple with as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, we respectfully request that you reinstate the original June requirements for determining lost revenue in order to prevent unnecessary financial uncertainty for hospitals and health care providers and to prevent them from being forced to return PRF funds that they have already received.”

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