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Coming Soon: New Round of Federal Provider Relief Funding

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last week that the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will begin accepting applications for the next round of Provider Relief Funding (PRF) on Sept. 29th. HRSA is the division of HHS that administers the PRF.

The total funding of $25.5 billion is comprised of $17 billion in PRF Phase 4 General Distribution funding and an $8.5 billion targeted rural allocation enacted by the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

While eligibility details for the targeted rural distribution require some clarification, providers who were eligible to apply for Phase 3 General Distribution payments should also be eligible to apply for Phase 4. On its website here, HRSA provides a non-inclusive list of provider types eligible to apply, which, among others, includes nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home care agencies, and providers of “home and community-based support.”

Please note that PRF Phase 4 payments will be based on providers' lost revenues and pandemic-related expenditures between July 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Of the Phase 4 payments, 75 percent will be used to reimburse expenses and lost revenue, while 25 percent will be used for bonus payments that will be based on the amount and type of services provided to Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicare patients/residents.

The HHS press release (available here) as well as the HRSA Future PRF Payments webpage (here) indicate that the Phase 4 distribution calculations will include new elements that will reimburse smaller providers for their lost revenues and COVID-19 expenses at a higher rate compared to larger providers and include bonus payments based on the amount of services providers furnish to Medicaid/CHIP and Medicare patients. When it comes to the ARP rural distribution of $8.5 billion, the agency indicates that it will make payments to providers based on the amount and type of Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP services provided to rural patients (as defined by the HHS Federal Office of Rural Health Policy: rural look-up functionality here, lists here). A stakeholder briefing on the new PRF funds will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Wed., Sept. 15th, with registration available here. A helpful article by LeadingAge National is also available here.

Along with the funding announcement, HRSA released a methodology document outlining how the funding allocations for the Phase 3 General Distribution were calculated (available here). The agency is developing a structured process to review and potentially reconsider Phase 3 applications and payment determinations, which should be announced shortly.

We remind members who received more than $10,000 in PRF funding prior to July 1, 2020 that reporting associated with that funding is due through the PRF Reporting Portal by Sept. 30th. However, HRSA has provided a 60-day grace period to the Sept. 30th deadline in response to challenges providers are facing given recent COVID-19 surges and natural disasters around the country. HRSA stresses that:

  • While you will be out of compliance if you do not submit your report by Sept. 30, 2021, recoupment or other enforcement actions will not be initiated during the 60-day grace period (Oct. 1st to Nov. 30, 2021).
  • The grace period will begin on Oct. 1, 2021 and end on Nov. 30, 2021.
  • Providers who are able are strongly encouraged to complete their report in the PRF Reporting Portal by Sept. 30, 2021.

HRSA has consolidated most of the PRF reporting information and numerous resources on their dedicated reporting and auditing webpage here. While the PRF website was redesigned over the summer, the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document (available here) remains one of the key resources and was most recently updated on Aug. 30th.