Advocacy & Practice Updates — Advocacy & Practice

Legislators Push to Change New Provider Relief Fund Reporting Requirements

As we reported in September, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released guidance on September 19 detailing reporting requirements for recipients of CARES Act Provider Relief Funds (PRF). In yet another shift of COVID-19 relief policy, HHS changed course from earlier FAQs defining lost revenues the PRF funds are intended to cover, igniting opposition from recipient health care organizations and lawmakers who are calling foul.

Retina specialists and other provider recipients of over $10,000 must submit a report on use of PRF funds to justify the disbursement. What started as a simple comparison of 2019 revenue to 2020 revenue now may involve detailed documentation of expenses similar to the rules for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Originally HHS defined lost revenue as “any revenue that … a health care provider lost due to coronavirus,” but last month it set a new definition of lost revenue to be the “negative change in year-over-year net patient care operating income.” After covering the cost of COVID-19-related expenses, recipients may only apply PRF payments toward lost revenue up to the amount of their 2019 net patient operating income. HHS’s new approach sparks concern that some entities may need to return funds, creating unnecessary financial uncertainty for recipients.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have written to pressure HHS to reinstate the original requirements for determining lost revenue before the reporting portal opens on January 15, 2021. Unless HHS acts again to revise the requirements, reevaluation of accounting and tax planning may be worthwhile to ensure the best approach for your practice. ASRS will continue to inform you of the latest details.

If you have questions, please contact Jill Blim.

(Published 10.21.20)

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