The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently provided some important guidance on the scope of COVID-19-related expenses that can be supported by monies from the Provider Relief Fund.
HHS says it interprets “health care related expenses attributable to coronavirus” as a broad term that may cover a range of items and services purchased to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. This includes:
- 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.
- Developing and staffing emergency operation centers.
- 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.
Providers may have incurred eligible expenses prior to the date they received their payment. In such cases, providers may use their Provider Relief Fund payment for such expenses incurred on any date, so long as those expenses were attributable to coronavirus and were used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. HHS expects that it would be highly unusual for providers to have incurred eligible expenses prior to January 1, 2020.
According to HHS, the term “lost revenues that are attributable to coronavirus” means any revenue that a health care provider lost due to coronavirus. This may include revenue losses associated with fewer home care visits, canceled services, or increased uncompensated care.
Providers can use Provider Relief Fund payments to cover any cost that the lost revenue otherwise would have covered, so long as that cost prevents, prepares for, or responds to coronavirus. Thus, these costs do not need to be specific to providing care for possible or actual coronavirus patients, but the lost revenue that the Provider Relief Fund payment covers must have been lost due to coronavirus.
HHS encourages the use of funds to cover lost revenue so that providers can respond to the coronavirus public health emergency (PHE) by maintaining health care delivery capacity. Provider Relief Fund payments may cover:
- Employee or contractor payroll
- Employee health insurance
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Equipment lease payments
- Electronic health record licensing fees
All providers receiving Provider Relief Fund payments will be required to comply with the reporting requirements described in the Terms and Conditions here and specified in future directions issued by the HHS Secretary.
HHS will provide guidance in the future about the type of documentation it expects recipients to submit. This information will be posted on the CARES Act Provider Relief page here.
Additional information is here.