More financial relief to individuals and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic is expected from Congress in the coming days. This funding is referred to as "Phase 4" a follow-up to the financial assistance provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. With more financial aid provided to businesses who have experienced hardships during the pandemic, one can expect that there will also be more requirements to prove that these funds are used appropriately.
Many of you have received distributions from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund. Phase 1 of the General Distribution assisted Medicare providers. Phase 2 is for Medicaid, CHIP, and dental providers. If you fall into the Phase 2 category and have not received funds under Phase 1, you can still apply for funding, but only until August 3, 2020. If you think you might be eligible, act now by reviewing requirements and the application here.
If you have received funding, specific steps must be taken to ensure that you don't have to pay the money back to Uncle Sam. You will need to attest to the Terms and Conditions through the attestation portal for your specific funding source. If you kept the money and did not attest to the Terms and Conditions within 90 days of receipt, you were deemed to have agreed. Whether you agreed on your own or were deemed to have agreed, we want to make sure you understand what you agreed to.
The Terms and Conditions state that funds will only be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. The payment will reimburse the recipient only for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to coronavirus. Although this might sound restrictive, HHS provided more details about what can be included. And, it's broader than you might expect. HHS includes, but does not limit expenses to:
- Supplies used to provide health care services for possible or actual COVID-19 patients
- Equipment used to provide health care services for possible or actual COVID-19 patients
- Workforce training
- Reporting COVID-19 test results to federal, state, or local governments
- Building or constructing temporary structures to expand capacity for COVID-19 patient care or to provide health care services to non-COVID-19 patients in a separate area from where COVID-19 patients are being treated
- Acquiring additional resources, including facilities, equipment, supplies, health care practices, staffing, and technology to expand or preserve care delivery
- Developing and staffing emergency operation centers
Another essential aspect to remember is that you cannot use this funding for expenses or losses reimbursed from other sources. This means that if you receive funds from the Paycheck Protection Program in addition to the funds from the Provider Relief Fund, you need to account for expenses separately. This brings me to my next point, reporting.
If your organization received more than $150,000 in total funds, under any combination of sources (CARES Act, FFCRA, PPP, etc.), you are required to submit a report to HHS and the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee no later than ten (10) days after the end of each calendar quarter. This report must account for how the money has been allocated for each program or activity related to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this reporting, HHS can request additional reports to determine compliance with the conditions that go along with these payments.
The bottom line is you must keep good records of how any funds received during the pandemic are being allocated. Which means you need to determine what part of your overhead can be attributed to the pandemic. When considering your overhead, think about the following:
- Do you have to provide additional training for your workforce?
- Did you create policies and procedures based on a change in the way you are providing services?
- Did you have to purchase additional supplies to protect your employees, your patients?
- Do you have to seek advice to determine how to implement new regulations?
If you did any of these things, more than likely, there was a cost attached. It is imperative that you track not only these expenses but also lost revenue attributable to COVID-19 and tie them to a specific funding source.
We realize that navigating the rules associated with this financial assistance, as well as COVID-19 in general, can be challenging. That's why Healthcare Compliance Pros continues to provide ongoing updates and information about the ever-changing landscape of the coronavirus pandemic.
For more information on how Healthcare Compliance Pros can assist your organization with COVID-19 and all your compliance needs, please reach out to us at 1-855-427-0427 or Schedule a Free Compliance Consultation with one of our experts.