HHS to Provide Immediate CARES Act Relief Funds to Hospitals and Doctors This Week
April 13, 2020
Offering immediate economic relief to hospitals, doctors, and other health care professionals and facilities, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced details regarding the distribution of the first $30 billion dollars from the $100 billion dollars allocated to HHS by the CARES Act. For more details on this fund, see our summary here.
Established as a grant and not a loan to eligible health care providers, these $30 billion dollars are intended for instant funding of physician practices and health care facilities that are either heavily impacted by COVID-19 or are struggling to remain solvent due to reduced patient volume during the pandemic. Generally, facilities and providers who received Medicare fee-for-service (“FFS”) reimbursements in 2019 are eligible for this initial rapid distribution.
Payments are automatic and will be paid via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) account information on file with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) or United Health Group, with whom CMS has partnered to accelerate funds distribution. Eligible health care providers can calculate their estimated distribution by:
- Dividing 2019 Medicare FFS payments by $484 billion (for reference, this figure corresponds to total Medicare FFS payments for 2019); and
- Multiplying the resulting figure by 30 billion.
This payment is not without conditions, however. Within 30 days of receiving the payment, providers must sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agree to the terms and conditions of the automatic payments. Providers can submit the attestation via a web portal CMS indicates will be open later this week and will be linked from www.hhs.gov/providerrelief.
The full list of terms and conditions are available here. The most significant of these conditions state that the funds:
- are only for payment for COVID-19 related expenses and reimbursements (including loss revenues related to COVID-19); and
- not for reimbursing expenses or losses that have been reimbursed from other sources or that other sources are obligated to reimburse
Further, HHS will only provide these funds on the condition that the recipient health care provider will not seek to collect out-of-pocket expenses from patients in an amount greater than that which the patient would have otherwise paid if the care was provided by an in-network provider for all care for a possible or actual case of COVID-19. Providers must also agree to comply with certain accounting and reporting requirements, as well as federal law regarding the use of federal funds. Providers who do not comply with the terms and conditions of the funding must return the funds to HHS in a manner to be specified by HHS.