The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last Friday that they will release $25.5 billion in COVID-19 Provider Relief Funds and rural funds previously authorized by Congress. This includes about $17 billion in Phase 4 PRF funding and an additional $8.5 billion appropriated to rural providers under the American Rescue Plan Act. HHS is setting up a new application portal for both sets of funding. It is unclear exactly how HHS will allocate Phase 4 and rural funds. HHS indicated a minimum payment for large providers and will also set aside a portion of the Phase 4 PRF funds and all of the rural funds to support providers that serve higher proportions of Medicare, SCHIP, and Medicaid enrollees. The application portal is expected to open September 29. WSHA will provide additional information as it becomes available.
In related news, HHS announced a 60-day grace period for Provider Relief Fund Reporting Period 1. The reporting due date for Period 1 remains September 30, 2021, and this does not affect the reporting deadlines for subsequent reporting periods. Hospitals and providers reporting for Period 1 after September 30 will still be considered out of compliance but will not be subject to enforcement or recoupment if they report within the grace period ending November 30. More information is on the HRSA PRF Reporting and Auditing Website. (Andrew Busz, Andrewb@wsha.org)