New Healthcare Provider Relief Funding
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is making available $25.5 billion in new healthcare provider relief funding for those affected by the pandemic, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). It includes $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) resources for providers who serve rural Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Medicare patients, and an additional $17 billion for Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 for a broad range of providers who can document revenue loss and expenses associated with the pandemic.
PRF Phase 4 Payments Focused on Equity
PRF Phase 4 payments will be based on providers’ lost revenues and expenditures between July 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, in accordance with the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020. Smaller providers who tend to operate on thin margins and serve isolated or vulnerable communities will be reimbursed at a higher rate compared to larger providers in a effort to be more equitable. There will also be bonus payments for providers who serve Medicaid, CHIP, and/or Medicare patients – priced at the generally higher Medicare rates to ensure equity for those serving seniors, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and low-income children.
As rural providers often serve a disproportionate number of Medicaid and CHIP patients who have higher and more complex medical needs, ARP payments will be made to providers based on the amount of Medicaid, CHIP and/or Medicare services they provide to patients who live in rural areas as defined by the HHS Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.
Application Portal Opens This Week
The application portal will open on September 29, 2021. Providers will apply for both programs in a single application, to expedite and streamline the application process and minimize the administrative burden. HRSA will use existing Medicaid, CHIP and Medicare claims data in calculating payments. PRF recipients will be required to report any merger or acquisition activity during the period in which they can use the payments, and may be more likely to be audited to confirm their funds were used for coronavirus-related expenses.
Grace Period for PRF Reporting
HHS has also announced a final 60-day grace period to help providers become compliant with PRF Reporting requirements if they miss the September 30, 2021 deadline for the first PRF Reporting Time Period. The deadlines to use funds and the Reporting Time Period will not change, but no collection activities or enforcement actions will be initiated during the grace period.
To learn more about eligibility requirements, the documents and information needed to complete the application, and the application process for PRF Phase 4 and ARP Rural payments, visit: https://www.hrsa.gov/provider-relief/future-payments.