Around the time of the start of the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic, Congress established the Provider Relief Fund (“PRF”) through the CARES Act in order to help providers who were financially damaged by COVID-19. Through October 1, 2020, there were two (2) phases for general funding, and multiple targeted allocations. The Phase 1 General Distribution allocated $30 billion to eligible providers, and the Phase 2 General Distribution allocated $20 billion to eligible providers, to be distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”). In addition to the general distributions, HHS also provided several targeted allocations, including to areas which were hit especially hard by COVID-19, including rural healthcare providers and skilled nursing facilities.
On October 1, 2020, HHS announced it would be allocating an additional $20 billion as its Phase 3 General Distribution. This Phase 3 General Distribution is intended for providers who were either excluded from the initial two (2) phases, or who were eligible under the first two (2) phases but require additional funding to cover ongoing financial losses incurred during the pandemic. The application period for this funding began on October 5, 2020 and will end on November 6, 2020. HHS urges providers to apply as soon as practicable. The applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so HHS asks that providers not apply during the final days of the application period.
The following providers are eligible for Phase 3 General Distribution funding: (1) providers who have previously received, rejected or accepted a General Distribution PRF payment; (2) behavioral health providers, including those that have previously received funding; and (3) healthcare providers that began providing services from January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020. All providers who receive payments must attest to receiving the payment and accept the associated terms and conditions.
HHS will be using the following criteria in making payment determinations: (1) whether the provider has previously received a PRF payment equal to two percent (2.0%) of patient services revenue; (2) any change in operating revenues from patient care services; (3) any change in operating expenses from patient care services; and (4) any payment already received through prior PRF distributions that represented less than two percent (2.0%) of patient services revenue.
Behavioral health providers are a particular focus of this Phase 3 General Distribution. Although some were eligible for earlier general distributions, HHS has made it a point to include all behavioral health providers as eligible in this Phase 3 General Distribution. As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety in the U.S. has increased from 8.1% in 2019 to 25.5% in 2020, and the prevalence of symptoms of depressive disorder grew from 6.5% in 2019 to 24.3% in 2020. As a result, many behavioral health providers had to adopt new telehealth technologies to provide patient care—which required a significant amount of funding. This distribution is intended to assist with these increased costs and increased utilization of behavioral health services.
If you or your healthcare organization has any questions pertaining to Provider Relief Fund reporting, audits, or healthcare compliance, please contact George W. Bodenger at 610-212-5031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.