HHS Announces Release of Additional CARES Act Provider Relief Funds

On April 22, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the distribution of additional funds starting April 24 for hospitals and other healthcare providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers who have received a payment must attest to receipt of the funds using the CARES Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal and agree to certain terms and conditions within 30 days of payment. According to HHS, starting April 24th, payments will be distributed weekly, on a rolling basis, as information is validated.

Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.

Congress passed legislation last week, which President Trump signed into law, which replenishes funding for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protect Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). The $484 billion package includes more than $300 billion in new funding for the PPP, $60 billion of which will be set aside for small businesses without existing banking relationships, and $60 billion for loans and grants for economic disaster assistance, including $10 billion for EIDL Advance grants.

The package also provides the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with an additional $75 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, for provider relief payments. This funding is to be used to provide Medicaid and Medicare enrolled health care providers with grants to cover health care related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to COVID-19; costs associated with diagnosing, testing, or caring for individuals with possible or actual cases of COVID–19; and, costs associated with building infrastructure or increasing capacity to address the COVID-19 outbreak. The package also includes $25 billion to support COVID-19 research, testing, and deployment of testing.

The Small Business Administration is currently accepting applications for PPP and EIDL funding. Physician practices and other eligible entities impacted by COVID-19 are encouraged to act quickly to apply for any funding they may be eligible, as newly appropriated funds are expected to be exhausted. Information on SBA funding mechanisms and eligibility requirements can be found here.

CMS Suspending Accelerated and Advance Payments

April 26th, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is reevaluating the amounts that will be paid under its Accelerated Payment Program to Part B providers and suppliers. Effective immediately, CMS will not accept any new applications for the Advance Payment Program in light of the recently appropriated $100 billion authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the $75 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act for healthcare providers. The Department of Health and Human Services is distributing this money through the Provider Relief Fund, and unlike the Accelerated Payment Program, the payments allocated under the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program payments do not need to be repaid.