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HHS Begins Delivery of $30 Billion in CARES Act Relief Funding to Providers

by Ron Present
April 10, 2020

On March 27, 2020, the president signed the CARES Act legislation that provides $100 billion in relief funds to Medicare providers including hospitals, nursing homes, physicians and other health care providers. This funding is not a loan, but a payment to infuse much needed funds into the health care system. Portions of these funds will be used to support health-care-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19 and to ensure uninsured Americans can get testing and treatment for COVID-19.

There Is a Catch

All eligible Medicare providers should begin receiving their portion of the $30 billion starting April 10, 2020. The government recognized the importance of delivering these much-needed funds in a fast and transparent manner and began direct deposits today. The process is automatic and providers do not have to request these payments (which are not loans) to receive the funding.

Eligibility includes facilities and other providers that received Medicare fee-for-service payments in 2019. The payments will be tracked by the recipient’s taxpayer identification number (TIN). For example, a physician practice with one TIN will receive the funds, not the individual physicians. However, there are certain conditions by which eligible providers must comply.

Within 30 days of receiving the relief fund payment, providers must sign an attestation confirming receipt of the funds and agree to the terms and conditions of payment. The agreement is a 10-page document that can be found here. The terms and conditions include several prohibitive uses of the monies, and it is highly recommended to specifically track what the payments are used for. The portal for signing the attestation will open the week of April 13, 2020, and it is suggested to move forward quickly with this process if you wish to keep those funds.

If a provider receives payment and does not wish to comply with these terms and conditions, the provider must contact the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) within the same 30 days of receipt of payment and then remit the full payment to HHS. Guidance should be available on who the appropriate contacts within HHS are to contact for repayment.

Please note that this funding is not part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Accelerated and Advance Payment Program. CMS has delivered billions of dollars to health care providers to help ensure providers and suppliers have the resources needed to combat the pandemic. The CMS accelerated and advance payments are loans that providers must pay back.

The remaining $70 billion will be distributed, focusing on providers in areas particularly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, rural providers, providers of services with lower shares of Medicare reimbursement or who predominantly serve the Medicaid population, and providers requesting reimbursement for the treatment of uninsured Americans. The methodology for this distribution, which may include an application process, has yet to be determined.

For questions about the CARES Act provider relief funding, contact our health care industry experts.

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