Eligible providers began receiving payments from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund on April 10. All providers that received Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursements in 2019 were eligible. Payments were automatically dispersed to providers according to their Tax Identification Number (TIN), meaning if you are an employed physician, or part of a health system, you will not receive direct payment. Payments were made via direct deposit from Optum Bank with “HHSPAYMENT” as the payment description.
As a condition to receiving these funds, providers must agree not to seek collection of out-of-pocket payments from a COVID-19 patient that are greater than what the patient would have otherwise been required to pay if the care had been provided by an in-network provider. If you ceased operation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you are still eligible to receive funds so long as you provided diagnoses, testing, or care for individuals with possible or actual cases of COVID-19. Care does not have to be specific to treating COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) broadly views every patient as a possible case of COVID-19.
Within 30 days of receiving payment, providers must sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agreeing to or rejecting the terms and conditions of payment. The attestation portal is now open and available here. If you do not agree to the terms and conditions of payment, you may reject the funds via the attestation portal and remit the full payment to HHS as instructed. Not returning payment within 30 days of receipt will be viewed as acceptance of the terms and conditions.
The Health Quality Innovation Network (HQIN) advises that payment recipients maintain a record to include the amount received, and documentation of the costs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, and health care related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to coronavirus. Thus, ensuring compliance with the Terms and Conditions of the payment in the event of an audit.
Further, entities receiving more than $150,000 in total funds across all federal Acts providing funding for coronavirus response will be expected to provide a quarterly report to HHS containing the total amount of funds received, and a detailed list of projects or activities funded (including descriptions and number of jobs created/retained).
Unlike the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, which is a loan, these Provider Relief Fund Payments are payments that do not need to be repaid.
More information is available at the HHS website, the Terms and Conditions, and the Attestation Portal. There is also a Provider Relief hotline for questions related to the grant funds: (866) 569-3522.