New FAQ Clarifies Some Provider Relief Fund Questions

Regulation | April 27, 2020 | by Nicole Fallon

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) added a new post over the weekend that now includes a new 9-page General Distribution Portal FAQ, which provides more clarity on what providers who have received general distribution funds (e.g., Medicare providers) need to do in order to keep those payments.  

The new General Distribution Portal FAQ focuses on the specific financial information providers, who have received funds, must provide in order to retain dollars and interestingly, by submitting this information, these providers could be eligible to receive additional funds.

Here are some key highlights of new information in the General Distribution Portal FAQ, issued by HHS:

  • HHS restated in the FAQ document that it, "broadly views every patient as a possible case of COVID-19.” In other words all providers should be eligible to keep the payments based upon this criteria of providing care to patients with possible or actual cases of COVID 19.
  • HHS also made it clear that if providers meet the terms and conditions, these payments will NOT need to be repaid. However, providers should be aware the terms and conditions indicate, among other things, that the payments must only be used for expenses and lost revenues related to COVID-19, and cannot cover expenses reimbursed by another source (e.g. Paycheck Protection Program, state funding for COVID-19 related expenses).
  • There are two types of payments from the Provider Relief Fund: General and Targeted.  
    • General Distributions have been made as of April 24 and are designed to “replace a percentage of a provider’s annual gross receipts, sales or program service revenue.” These were made to providers of Medicare services looking at both their 2019 Medicare FFS payments (1st round) and their net patient revenue from their most recent CMS Cost Report (2nd round).
    • Targeted Distributions are aimed at providers who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 or who have not received payments as part of the General Distribution. Some providers will begin seeing these payments deposited the week of April 27.
  • If your organization has NOT received a Provider Relief Fund payment, it doesn’t mean it won’t or is ineligible.  HHS is still working on distributing these dollars. “HHS is performing an ongoing assessment of how to distribute relief to these providers,” and “Information on future Targeted Distributions will be shared when publicly available."
  •  If you have received funds as of April 24 at 5 p.m. EST, you:
    • Must sign an attestation accepting the terms and conditions associated with the payment; AND
    • Must submit tax documents and revenue loss estimates if the provider wishes to be eligible for additional fund distributions. (Note: Congress passed a bill that adds $75 billion to the Fund.
  • Attestations: All providers retaining payments from the Provider Relief Fund must sign an attestation and accept the terms and conditions, associated with the payment within 30 days of receiving the payment.
  • Provider Relief Fund portals that HHS references include:
    • Attestation Portal: It is here that all providers must agree to each of the terms and conditions related to the payments they have received from the Provider Relief Fund as of April 24 at 5p EST.
    • General Distribution Portal: This is the portal through which a provider who has received a general distribution payment must submit additional financial information. Within the HHS General Distributon Portal FAQ document, it appears that this is sometimes referred to as the Application Portal.
    • Application Portal: This portal can only be used by a provider who received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund as of 5p EST on Friday, April 24. These providers are eligible for additional payments and are encouraged to apply using this portal. This portal should not be used by providers who have not yet received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund. However, it should be noted that these providers may still be eligible for payments from the Fund even though they have not yet received a payment.
  • Providers who have received general distribution payments as of April 24 at 5p ET must complete two steps within 30 days of receipt of each payment. First, they must submit an attestation agreeing to the terms and conditions for each payment received. This is done through the Attestation Portal. After the attestation is submitted, providers must submit tax documents and estimated lost revenue information as part of receiving the 2nd round of payments through a separate Application Portal. By submitting this data, these providers may be eligible to receive additional payments from the Fund.
    • “Gross receipts or sales” or “program service revenue” as submitted on its federal income tax return;
    • Estimated lost revenues for March and April 2020 due to COVID-19;
      • HHS offers the following options for estimating lost revenues:  1) Compare year-over-year revenue or 2) Compare budgeted to actual revenue. For April 2020, providers may estimate the total monthly loss based on data from the first few weeks and extrapolation from March data.
    • Copy of most recently filed Federal income tax return;
    • Tax identification numbers (TINs) of any of your organization’s subsidiaries that have received funds but DO NOT file separate federal tax returns.  

The General Distribution Portal FAQ answers numerous questions about why you might be receiving an error when entering data into the portal. Members are encouraged to use this document if you are having trouble.

Each entity that files a federal income tax return must file its own application even if it is part of a provider group. However, for a group of corporations that file a single consolidated return, the tax return filer will be the only entity that need submit the financial information through the Application Portal.

HHS indicates that additional funds will NOT be distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis but instead batched every Wednesday at 12 noon EST. However, HHS intends to distribute these additional funds (or provide another response) within 10 business days of providers submitting the financial information in the Application Portal.

While there is no new information on the status of distributing funds to Medicaid-only providers, HHS does state that just because a provider has not yet received a payment does not mean they are ineligible or won’t receive a payment. “HHS is performing an ongoing assessment of how to distribute relief to these providers.” 

LeadingAge has again updated its CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Background, Considerations and FAQs document to reflect the latest HHS guidance and information as of April 27.