As part of the CARES Act, Congress established a Provider Relief Fund, with $50 billion allocated to Medicare facilities and providers impacted by COVID-19 and based on eligible providers’ 2018 net patient revenue. Many AOPA member received funding when the initial $30 billion was distributed between April 10 and 17. Late last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released information on the remaining $20 billion, presenting an opportunity for additional funding.
The remaining $20 billion will be distributed in two ways – an automatic distribution to Medicare providers who previously submitted cost reports, and subsequent waves of distributions based on Medicare providers’ applications in a General Distribution Portal. HHS’ goal is to augment providers’ allocations so that all funding is proportionate to each provider’s share of 2018 net patient revenue. For example, certain providers (such as children’s hospitals) have a small Medicare proportion and were allocated a small amount from the initial $30 billion Distribution, and therefore are eligible to receive more from the $20 billion Distribution. HHS has stated that the General Distribution will ideally replace a percentage of providers’ annual gross receipts, sales, or program services revenue during this period.
Medicare providers who have already received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund are eligible to apply for additional funds by submitting data about their annual revenues and estimated COVID-related losses via a General Distribution Portal. While providers received the initial funds automatically, in this second disbursement, HHS will require providers to submit their revenue information through the General Distribution Portal, so the cost report data can be verified. HHS has noted that any provider who received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund as of 5pm ET Friday, April 24 can and should apply for additional funding via the Provider Relief Fund Application Portal.
More information on the application process (including all information needed for the application) can be found in an FAQ and user guide created by HHS.
HHS will be processing applications submitted through the General Distribution Portal in batches every Wednesday at noon ET. The funds will not be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis; therefore, applicants will be given equal consideration regardless of when they apply before each processing deadline and will not be penalized for taking several days to collect the required information. HHS plans to issue payments on a weekly, rolling basis, as information is validated, estimating the first payments will go out 10 business days after the first submission deadline. That said, the intent is to disburse the funds quickly.
As reported yesterday by AOPA, as of April 26 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) ended its Medicare Accelerated and Advanced Payment Program because of the additional Provider Relief funding. Those who were expecting advanced payments should consider applying for this additional funding.
If you are looking for a deeper dive into O&P policy issues including COVID-related legislation join us Wednesday, May 6 from 1 to 3pm ET for the 2020 Virtual Policy Forum.
For any questions on the HHS disbursements or the Policy Forum, please contact Justin Beland, AOPA’s Director of Government Affairs at jbeland@AOPAnet.org.